By Ray Hamill — Get ready for a big weekend of North Coast Section playoff football, with six of the nine H-DNL programs in action over the next two days.
Five of the six teams will kick off their postseason journey on Friday night, and four of the six will play at home.
So what can we expect on the opening weekend, and where can fans watch and listen to the games?
First up, three of the games will be broadcast live on local radio, as well as online, while four of the weekend games will be streamed live on the NFHS Network for a small subscription.
The action gets under way on Friday night, with three games here on the North Coast.
Fortuna hosts Middletown, Arcata hosts Moreau Catholic (at McKinleyville High School) and South Fork hosts California School for the Deaf.
Two other H-DNL teams will open on the road on Friday night.
Ferndale plays at St. Helena and Del Norte plays at Vallejo, and all of Friday’s game are set for 7 p.m.
The weekend action concludes on Saturday afternoon at 1 with St. Bernard’s hosting Terra Linda at Crusader Field.
The Fortuna, Ferndale, South Fork and St. Bernard’s games are all scheduled to be streamed live on the NFHS Network.
The Fortuna and St. Bernard’s games will also be broadcast live on the radio, with Tag Wotherspoon calling the action from both games on 95.1 FM, which can also be accessed online.
The Del Norte game will be broadcast live on 97.9 FM, as well as on DelNorteSports.com, with John Pritchett and John “Mad Dog” Horner calling the action.
The pregame shows for all of the radio games begins 15 minutes before kickoff.
Interestingly, all three of the Big 4 teams to qualify for the playoffs are in different playoff divisions this year and the six local teams are competing in five different brackets.
A reminder for any fans who plan on attending any of the weekend games that tickets cannot be purchased for cash at the gate and are only available through GoFan.co.
Del Norte at Vallejo
The Redhawks are 7-3 and have won four straight games on their way to finishing 4-0 in the Tri-County Stone conference.
Vallejo is ranked No. 43 in the NCS, according to MaxPreps, eight spots ahead of Del Norte.
Terra Linda at St. Bernard’s
The Crusaders are seeded No. 2 in Division 5, behind No. 1 Miramonte and are 7-3 overall after clinching a share of a first-ever Big 4 championship.
The No. 7 Trojans, out of San Rafael, are 5-5 and finished fifth out of eight teams in the Marin County conference with a record of 2-3.
They are ranked No. 61 in the NCS, while the Crusaders are No. 40.
Fortuna vs. Middletown
After clinching a share of the Big 4 championship, the Huskies closed out the regular season with a record of 7-3 and received the No. 4 seed for the Division-6 playoffs.
The No. 5 Mustangs are 8-2 and tied for the best record in the North Central League I with a record of 7-1.
There is little to separate these two teams in the MaxPreps rankings, with the Huskies No. 41, one spot ahead of Middletown.
Moreau Catholic at Arcata (at Mack High)
Arcata is seeded No. 7 in the bracket, while the Mariners, who are 5-5 and placed third in a tough West Alameda County conference with a record of 3-2, are seeded No. 2 behind No. 1 St. Vincent de Paul.
Moreau Catholic is No. 33 in the NCS, while the Tigers are No. 63.
Ferndale at St. Helena
This Division-7 game is another tough-to-call 4 vs. 5 seed matchup.
The Wildcats are 6-4 and seeded No. 5 after placing second in the Little 4, while the Saints are seeded No. 4 and finished 6-4 in the regular season, while placing fifth in the North Central League I with a record of 4-4.
St. Helena is ranked No. 56 in the NCS, while Ferndale is No. 75.
California School for the Deaf at South Fork
The Cubs have won four straight games and closed out the regular season with a 4-1 record against eight-person teams, while earning a No. 2 seed in the four-team Division-1 (eight-person) bracket.
South Fork placed second in the North Central League II.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are an independent team that does not play in a conference and are 9-1, having not lost a game since late September.