By Ray Hamill — Here we go again.
After suffering their only loss against an eight-person team this fall, when they fell 46-22 at Stuart Hall in late September, the South Fork Cubs immediately set their eyes on a rematch.
The players had reason to want that rematch.
“When they lined up to shake their hands after the game, they told the Stuart Hall players ‘we’ll see you again,’” South Fork head coach Karl Terrell said.
The Cubs will get their wish this weekend with a lot more at stake this time around.
The top two seeds in the eight-person Division-1 bracket will face off in a North Coast Section championship game at South Fork High School on Saturday afternoon and Terrell and his players are relishing the occasion.
“The kids are jacked,” the longtime head coach said.
A victory would secure a first-ever section championship for the Cubs, although they beat Rincon Valley Christian in a Redwood Bowl championship game in 2017, which was an unofficial section championship game between the top two eight-player programs that season.
Even at full strength, the Cubs will likely have their hands full against a Stuart Hall team that is 8-1 this season and has won seven straight games dating back to early September.
Incredibly, the Knights have a roster of 36 players, which begs the question why on earth are they competing in eight-person football?
They are coming off a 70-60 win over Branson in this past weekend’s semifinals.
Terrell and his players are hoping a physical brand of football will cause the higher seeds problems in the championship showdown.
“A big part of our game is running the ball and (Stuart Hall) don’t like to be run on,” the South Fork coach said. “We’ve got to play tough defense and not give up the big plays.
“They’re explosive and you’ve got to shut down that explosiveness. When you get behind the eight ball (against teams like that), it’s tough to come back.”
The Cubs are 5-5 on the season, but four of their losses came in the opening four weeks against 11-player teams.
Since returning to eight-player games, they have gone 5-1, including five straight wins.
“We’re tougher because of what we’ve been through in the first half of the season,” he said. “I think that helped.”
It certainly appears to have helped the South Fork offense, which has put up 286 points in the last five games, including a 66-32 win over California School for the Deaf in last weekend’s semifinal.
Saturday’s game is set for 1 p.m.