An early start to the high school football season kicks off Friday evening, as the Fortuna Huskies host the El Molino Lions for a junior varsity/varsity double-header. The Huskies and the Lions are meeting for their initial game of the season for the fifth year in a row. During that stretch, Fortuna has compiled a 3-1 record against El Molino, including last season's 36-15 win. Coincidentally, this is Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow's fifth season at the helm of the Huskies football program. Benbow has enjoyed much success during his term and in many respects the 2011 season was a breakout year for the Huskies.
A strong group of seniors and some recognizable names brought Fortuna an undefeated league campaign and a Big 5 Championship. The Huskies made it all the way to the semifinal round of the North Coast Section Division 4 football playoffs before calling it a season. Players like Zach Cahill, Brady Shaha and Cole Collings , as well as others, not only provided leadership in their senior year but also in prior seasons as well. Last year a strong group of seniors accounted for 2,834 of the total 3,197 rushing yards, 44 of 48 touchdowns scored and 87 percent of the total offensive output for the Huskies. “We had some smart football players graduate last year, they were students of the game and set a standard that we want to maintain,” said Benbow of last year's team.
Though some may see 2012 as perhaps a rebuilding year for the Huskies, Benbow does not see it that way at all, “No, 2012 is going to be a continuation of our success, we have a program here and we are led every year by our seniors, this year will be no exception,” said Benbow.
So what can Huskies fans expect when the team takes the field this Friday night and subsequent weekends? “These guys are hard workers, we've had a good summer and they've put in the hard work,” said Benbow, “Our offensive line will be one of our strengths, but we will win games with our defense.” Benbow couldn't help but smile a little when he reflected on the team's overall quickness.
”We don't have much size, but we have team speed, we are going to be quick and aggressive,” said Benbow.
As far as El Molino, they finished last season with a 4-6 mark but come to town this year with 11 seniors on the roster and most are starters. “They have an athletic quarterback and we expect they will run the option,” said Benbow. “We match up well with them, if we take care of things we should be just fine.” Benbow and the team watched film earlier this week of the 2012 Lions.
For the Huskies, expect Jacob Hough to run the offense at the quarterback position, receivers Kalen Barcelos and Chandler Wilson will be main targets when he drops back to pass. Backfield mates Brett Renner, Travis Milich and Colton Ross will get most of the carries for the Huskies and watch for Milich, Jack Rovai, Tyler Graham and Ryan Erickson on defense.
Benbow stresses the program approach rather than just a team of Fortuna Huskies. “We present a consistent coaching staff, have hard working kids in the program and receive great support from the administration and the community,” preached Benbow of the secrets to his success at Fortuna High. 2012 is a new season and a fresh start for the Fortuna Huskies, but what will they accomplish when all said and done? “We want to accomplish things as a team, we want to go out there and compete in every game and talk about a league title and section title,” related Benbow. “But mostly we want to look back at the end of the season and have the guys see it as a success and a payoff for all the hard work they are putting into it,” finalized Benbow. For the Fortuna Huskies, it all starts this Friday evening!
Photos by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon
1. Now in his fifth year as head coach, Mike Benbow will once again lead the Fortuna Huskies onto the field for their season home-opener this Friday night against the El Molino Lions. Benbow predicts this years squad will be exciting to watch as team speed will be one of the strengths of the Huskies.
2. This will be the scene Friday night when the Fortuna Huskies storm the field for their season opener versus the El Molino Lions. The new season brings some fresh faces to the varsity as well as proven returners from last year. “We are going to be quick and aggressive this year and we will win games with our defense,” predicts Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow.