By Ray Hamill — Three of the five H-DNL schools in action on Friday night won their North Coast Section playoff openers, including the Fortuna Huskies, who rolled over Middletown 36-0 thanks in large part to a dominating defensive performance.
The No. 4 seeds in the Division-6 bracket will now play either No. 1 St. Vincent de Paul or No. 8 Kennedy in next week’s semifinals.
Also in Division 6 on Friday, the No. 7 Arcata Tigers lost a physical and hard-fought showdown against No. 2 Moreau Catholic at McKinleyville High.
The Tigers defense was outstanding for much of the night and held the higher seeds scoreless for the opening half, but the Mariners would settle into the game and rallied in the second half for a 21-18 victory.
In another close game in Division 4, the No. 6 Del Norte Warriors traveled to Vallejo and lost to the No. 3 Redhawks by a score of 28-22.
We’ll have more on the Del Norte game on Saturday.
In Division 7, the Ferndale Wildcats also played on the road against a higher seed, winning comfortably 41-13 at St. Helena.
The No. 5 Wildcats will now advance to play at No. 1 Clear Lake, as they move within two wins of a section championship.
The Cardinals had an opening round bye and are 9-1 on the season.
The win sends the Cubs on to next week’s eight-person Division-1 final, where they will get a rematch with Stuart Hall, which defeated Branson 70-60 in the other semifinal.
At Husky Field, Fortuna quickly took control of the game against the Mustangs and opened up a 29-0 lead before halftime.
The defense was outstanding and handed the Mustangs their first shutout of the season, while ending their six-game winning streak.
“Our whole unit was stellar tonight,” Benbow said “For them to hold Middletown to not a lot of yards was really impressive.”
Offensively, the Huskies were balanced.
Quarterback Chad Mussey threw a pair of touchdowns in the win and did a good job running the offense.
Mussey and the Huskies are playing their best football of the season right now.
They improved to 8-3 with Friday’s win and could get a rematch with St. Vincent de Paul, which barely beat them 22-15 in late September.
“We’re getting better as we go, which is a pretty good sign,” Benbow said.
We’ll have more on all of the playoff games on Saturday.
St. Bernard’s rounds out a busy weekend for the local teams with a Division-5 matchup against Terra Linda at Crusader Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday.