Fortuna Huskies win big over McKinleyville 55-7; host Eureka Loggers Friday night for league title

Mark Lorenz

Beacon Correspondent

The Fortuna Huskies won big over the McKinleyville Panthers last Friday night by a score of 55-7 and put themselves in a position to play for the Big Five League Title this Friday evening when they host the Eureka Loggers in the regular season finale for both teams. The postseason possibilities can wait, as the regular season's final game is for all the marbles locally when the red-hot Fortuna Huskies butt helmets with the big, bad Eureka Loggers in a must-see game. It has been since 1999 that Fortuna High has captured the Big Five Championship. This years game appears to be the Huskies best chance to not only beat Eureka but win the league crown as well.

Last Friday, the Huskies made the trip north to take on the McKinleyville Panthers. The Panthers first possession of the evening held some promise as they moved into Husky territory however, the Fortuna defense stiffened and the result was a 4th-down punt. The Huskies took control of the momentum and the game going 80 yards in 9 plays, going up by a touchdown and never looking back in their lop-sided win. Fortuna excelled in every aspect of the game, did not allow the opponents a point until the final quarter and won their 9th in a row over the McKinleyville Panthers.

Fortuna spread the ball around as Tyrol Chamberlain opened the scoring on a 5-yard run, he would finish with 54 yards on 8 carries. Consistent performer Zach Cahill added a early touchdown run of 23 yards and totaled 85 yards on 7 carries. The Huskies struck through the air as well and quarterback Brady Shaha hit wide receiver Kevin Will for a 37-yard touchdown pass in the waning moments of the 1st quarter. Fortuna led at quarters end 20-0. After a stalemate for much of the 2nd period, the Husky defense got on the board when Fortuna linebacker Cole Collings jumped on a loose ball in the Panther endzone for a quick six points.

Quarterback Brady Shaha hooked up with tightend Kevin Bocek for a 38-yard score and the Huskies went into the half-time locker room leading 34-0. The Shaha to Bocek connection worked again in the 3rd quarter for a 17-yard touchdown pass. The Huskies finished off the 3rd period with a touchdown run by sophomore runningback Brett Renner at the 1:51 mark. QB Shaha would finish the night going 9 for 17 through the air, good for 180 yards and the 3 touchdowns. Fortuna's Colton Ross closed out the scoreboard onslaught with his 4th quarter 75-yard run to the Panther endzone.

Just prior to the Ross score, the Panthers scored their first and only points of the evening, a McClain Johnson 2-yard touchdown run and subsequent PAT. Fortuna place kicker J.R. Reynosa booted through 7 of 8 PAT attempts, with the one miss being blocked by the Panther front line. The Husky rushing attack gained 308 yards with seven different ball carriers.

The Fortuna defense matched the offense with a fine performance as Cahill and Chamberlain each picked off a Panther pass. Sacks were recorded by Cahill and Collings, the Husky defense flew to the ball limiting McKinleyville to 100 yards of net offense. The Fortuna Huskies win streak of six games and all their hard work this season will be put to the test when they host the big, bad Eureka Loggers this Friday night in the regular season finale. Local bragging rights and the Big Five title will be on the line and will be the prize for the victorious team. As hot as the Huskies have been of late, the Loggers are also playing their best football of the season in recent weeks and are coming off an impressive handling of Ukiah 41-13.

So, the Huskies will have to answer the question, "Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?" If the answer is, "not the Huskies," then it will be one heck of a ball game. It has been several years since Fortuna High has beaten Eureka High on the football field, so the challenge will be mental as well as physical. Without a doubt this is the Huskies best chance at a win over Eureka in recent years. Also of interest will be the junior varsity contest, as Fortuna is coming off a 35-13 win over McKinleyville and is looking to finish atop the league standings with a win this Friday night.