War­riors, Cubs prepped for semis

Times Standard (Eureka) - - SPORTS - By An­drew But­ler abut­ler@times-stan­dard.com @But­ler_on­sports on Twit­ter

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

yards.

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.

JOSE QUEZADA — FOR THE TIMES-STAN­DARD

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.

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