Huskies trip the Warriors –Despite playing without its best player, Fortuna stopped Del Norte Friday night 22-12 on Senior Night for the Huskies. With that result, and St. Bernard’s easy victory over Eureka, the Warriors, Fortuna and the Crusaders all tied for the Big Four Conference championship with a 2-1 record. Del Norte finished the regular season with a 6-3 mark.
Playoffs next –Despite the loss, Del Norte advanced to the North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs. The Warriors will travel to Vallejo High for a 7 p.m. battle Friday night against the No. 3 seed Red Hawks. The game will be heard live on KPOD 97.9 FM, and delnortesports.com.
End of streaks – With the loss, Del Norte’s streak of 15 consecutive conference victories came to an end. The Warriors had not lost to a conference foe since 2018. The defeat also ended Del Norte’s three-year streak of undisputed conference championships (although Del Norte did clinch its fourth title in a row last week). The Warriors were also riding a five-game winning streak coming into the game. What does continue is Del Norte’s consecutive seasons making the post season – five.
Fortuna finds a way –Fortuna was without Jake Houseworth, its bruising running back and linebacker, who was at the national Future Farmers of America convention. So, the Huskies turned to the big play, scoring on a 25-yard run and a 45-yard TD pass in the first quarter. Del Norte got on the board thanks to a Fortuna fumble recovery by Kai Russell in the end zone. Late in the third quarter Ben Borges’ three-yard TD late in the third quarter cut Fortuna’s early lead to 13-12. But in the fourth quarter, the Huskies scored on a 41-yard TD pass, and then got the final margin when a center snap sailed over punter Kai Russell’s head and out of the end zone.
More stout defense – No team has scored more than three touchdowns in a game against the Warriors this season. The Huskies were limited to 159 yards in rushing offense and less than 300 overall.
Sluggish offense – Despite quarterback Kyle Dixon’s best overall game of the season (81 yards passing, a team-high 66 yards rushing), Del Norte’s offense hasn’t been able to hit top gear in recent weeks. In their past four games, the Warriors’ offense has averaged just two touchdowns and 232 yards per contest. Del Norte has not had a 100-yard rusher since its September win over Oakland Tech.
Extra point woes – Del Norte has truly struggled on its extra-point tries this season, converting just 50 percent. Kickers have converted on 11-of-21 attempts (52 percent) and scoring on two-point tries just three times out of seven.
McDonald’s Players of the Game – Kai Russell was the McDonald’s defensive player of the game for the Warriors, while Isaac Dixon was selected the offensive player of the night.
Three advance –While Eureka finished without a win this season (0-10), the other three members of the Big Four advanced to the postseason. In Division 5, St. Bernard’s is the No. 2 seed, and will play host to Terra Linda at 1 p.m. Saturday. Fortuna will be at home, Friday at 7 p.m. taking on Middletown in the Division 6 bracket.
Scouting Vallejo – Del Norte’s playoff foe is the No. 3 seed, and comes into the game with a 7-3 record and a perfect 4-0 mark in Tri-County/Stone League. Senior quarterback Jaiser Smith is completing 56 percent of his passes good for 182 yards per game. He has tossed 22 touchdown passes, but has also thrown nine interceptions. Junior running back Sedrick Vaughn, at 144 pounds, leads the Red Hawks in rushing, picking up 7-plus yards per carry. Defensively, Vallejo is giving up 24 points per game.
Junior varsity finishes 6-2–Del Norte’s junior varsity was unable to get its offense untracked Friday, as the Warriors were defeated at Fortuna 18-0. The Huskies claimed the Big Four JV crown with the win. Del Norte finished with a 6-2 record, with 18 juniors poised to move up to the varsity next season. Names to remember in 2024 include quarterback Kanyon Starkey, running backs Tobias Meyers, Chulhs Bates and Jason Murphy, mammoth lineman Jayden Rodriguez, and defensive standout Clifton Cruz.