Warriors, Cubs prepped for semis
The Del Norte High football team can advance to the program’s first-ever section title game with a win while the Cubs of South Fork will try to gain their third-straight section championship game appearance as the North Coast Section playoffs continue tonight.
D-V: No. 3 Moreau Catholic (8-3) at No. 2 Del Norte (10-1)
Del Norte began its 2019 campaign on the road at Moreau Catholic with a narrow 20-19 victory on Aug. 23.
Tonight, the two teams will meet again looking to end one another’s season.
Del Norte’s road-win over Moreau Catholic was an impressive feat — but in fairness, the Mariners were not fully staffed.
Fresh Ison, a running back who rushed for over 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns last season as a junior, was sidelined for the week-1 game — not to mention much of the 2019 season — due to injury.
According to MaxPreps Ison played sparingly against James Logan on Oct. 25 but has otherwise been off the field.
Nonetheless, Del Norte head coach Nick White is preparing his team as though the dynamic running back will be on the field tonight.
“We have to be aware of where he is every play,” White said. “They have four or five really exceptional athletes…you just don’t see the type of athleticism they bring too often.”
Moreau Catholic has been led this season by quarterback Bowen Dickstein. The senior has passed for 1,476 yards and 21 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Running backs Elijah Salazar-Alexander and Devin Arnold have rushed for a combined 1,576 yards and 23 touchdowns. The Mariners advanced to tonight’s semifinal game with a 56-27 win over No. 6 Miramonte.
Del Norte, a run-first — and run-second — offense is lead by a trio of talented running backs.
Kobe Mitchell leads the team in touchdown runs (14) while Levi Cox-Cooley leads the team in rushing yards (1,148) to go along with 11 touchdowns. Chase Blackburn has rushed for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Del Norte advanced to tonight’s 7 p.m. semifinalround home game at Mike Weiland field with a 41-6 win over No. 7 Alhambra a week ago. The Warriors’ defense performed as well as can be imagined, holding Alhambra to zero firsthalf
A win tonight would send Del Norte through to the program’s first-ever section championship round.
“It just seems like these games get more and more important every week. We have a chance to be one of, if not the, best football teams in Del Norte history,” White said. “There’s a bit at stake.”
8-person: No. 2 Branson (7-1) at No. 3 South Fork (7-2)
Step one to pulling off a playoff upset: Playing at home.
South Fork, the clear underdog going against a Branson-Ross team which
has soundly beat in all three meetings since the Cubs moved to 8-man football in 2017, will have home-field advantage tonight when the two teams meet for a semifinal-round contest at 7 p.m. in Miranda.
The game was moved to South Fork earlier this week due to Branson not being able to meet NCS requirements to host a game.
Branson beat South Fork 72-28 when the two teams met earlier this season. In 2018, Branson downed the Cubs 50-14 in the section title game and 36-22 during the regular season.
South Fork head coach Karl Terrell said his club is a much improved group from
it was eight weeks ago when they first saw Branson.
“These kids are ready,” Terrell said. “Everyone is chompin’ at the bit…and that kind of attitude comes straight from your team leaders and captains.”
One of those leaders, Alex Harding, will need to have another tremendous performance tonight if the Cubs are to beat Branson team laden in talent and depth — the Bulls have 29 players on their roster, more than most Division 6 and 7 teams in the section.
Harding leads South Fork in rushing yards (1,284), rushing touchdowns (20), receiving yards (615), receiving touchdowns (9), total
yards (1,995), tackles (95), and interceptions (10).
South Fork quarterback Sean Hassall-Hoss has emerged as a competent QB this season. The junior has thrown 14 touchdowns compared to 2 interceptions.
No team statistics for Branson were available when this edition went to press.
South Fork downed No. 6 Laytonville 34-0 a week ago while Branson saw itself through the first-round thanks to a bye.
South Fork last has been to the section title round in each of its first two seasons in the 8-person division. In 2017, the Cubs won a section title.
Del Norte High’s Levi Cox Cooley will look to lead his team to its first-ever NCS title game appearance when the Warriors host Moreau Catholic tonight.