Fortuna JVs rise to the challenge behind standout offensive line

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A pair of big-play running backs and an outstanding offensive line helped the Fortuna Huskies end a long championship drought in JV football this season.

The Huskies came into their season finale last weekend tied for the Big 4 lead with Del Norte and an 18-0 win over the Warriors in what was a true championship game secured a first league title in several years.

The young Fortuna players knew what was at stake and rose to the challenge.

“It was a really big game and we were ready,” head coach Dan Milich said. “Our boys were keeping an eye on this one for a while because we historically have struggled against Del Norte and their line.”

Not this time, and after a scoreless first half the Fortuna line began to wear down the Warriors and paved the way for 18 unanswered points on the way to the shutout victory.

Sophomores Logan Hoppis and Casey Moore, and freshmen Aaron Thurston, Mikhail Pitzer, and Jonah Davidson opened up big holes for standout running backs Mako Limon and Kavi Bolden, who between them put up historically big numbers running the ball this year.

Limon opened the scoring with a 51-yard TD run early in the second half, and would add a second TD in the fourth quarter on a 31-yard run.

The dynamic duo rushed for a combined total of 1,907 yards and 32 touchdowns this fall, and Limon’s 1,279 yards — which included 21 touchdowns — was the most by a Fortuna running back varsity or JV since JB Lewis rushed for over 1,500 yards over 16 games during the Huskies’ state championship season of 2017.

Milich described the two sophomores, each of whom have been brought up to the varsity roster for this year’s playoffs, as “our big-play running backs.”

Neither player, however, would have enjoyed that sort of success without a dominating offensive line in front of them, a unit that grew in stature as the season progressed.

In particular, the play of Pitzer was key.

“Mikhail Pitzer really really stepped up and became an absolute dude on the offensive line,” Milich said. “They all worked hard.”

Thurston also scored in Friday’s conference-clinching win.

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The freshman lineman lined up as a fullback in a wishbone set, and wedged his way into the end zone on a play that offensive coordinator Andy Olsen calls “Bowling Ball.” 

Limon, Bolden and Brad Essig combined for 223 rushing yards in the win, with Limon leading the way and finishing with 179 yards on 13 carries.

With the win, the young Huskies closed out the season 8-2, including an undefeated 3-0 mark in the Big 4.

And Milich says everyone involved played a role in that success.

“I have to give credit to the parents and the previous coaches,” he said. “The players were so incredibly coachable. They all wanted to be team players. To a man, they all said ‘whatever you need coach.’”

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