The Ferndale Mustangs and the Eel River Valley Huskies battled it out on the football field for the Six Rivers Youth Football Triple AAA Championship this past Sunday at Humboldt State University. It was a game that would rival any great high school games that have played out, as the two evenly matched teams exchanged big plays all the way to the final moments when the Mustangs came up with one last game-changing play to pull out the win. Ferndale also had their Single and Double A teams in the championship games but came up short in those contests.
In the Triple AAA Division it was the undefeated No. 1 seeded Ferndale Mustangs versus the once beaten No. 2 seeded ERV Huskies. That one defeat was at the hands of the Mustangs mid-season and was a two point contest, the Huskies sought their revenge this past Sunday. The game opened with the two teams exchanging fumbles as perhaps the big game nerves got to the players. ERV put the ball on the ground first as Mustang Ryan Isaacs recovered for Ferndale. A golden opportunity went awry as two plays later Ferndale fumbled and ERV's Robbie Yates recovered.
The Huskies had a 6 play possession but were facing a 4th down when another game-changer took place. Ferndale's Blaine Becksted busted through to block the ERV punt, teammate Dane Gritsch recovered and the Mustangs had the ball 15 yards away from paydirt. Four plays later, Becksted busted through for a 3-yard touchdown run and the Mustangs led 6-0 with the PAT failing. ERV's bad fortune had not ended there as three offensive plays later the Huskies fumbled again, this time it was Mustang Blaine Zanone recovering the loose ball.
Ferndale was unable to take advantage of that turnover but the Huskies sure came roaring back. ERV runningback Cole Halley had a stellar day running the ball and No. 5 burst into the open field for a shocking 61-yard touchdown run that tied up the game at the 8:55 mark of the 2nd quarter. Ferndale's Brad Martin blocked the PAT kick attempt and the game remained tied at six apiece. Neither team was able to mount a scoring threat over the remaining time and the game was still deadlocked at the half.
Ferndale received the 2nd half kickoff and mounted a drive of a dozen plays that broke the tie on the scoreboard. The drive was kept alive on a 4th down converted as quarterback Bradley Martin hit receiver Lee O'Reilly for a 28-yard gain. Blaine Becksted broke threw the Husky defense for his 2nd 3-yard touchdown of the game and despite the missed PAT the Mustangs regained the lead at 12-6.
ERV answered with a long drive of their own as the 3rd quarter came to an end, the Huskies were in the Mustang redzone. The Huskies were stopped by the Mustang defense on 4th down and Ferndale held their slim lead. Ferndale would have liked to run out the clock and did damage with a 10 play possession but still had to punt in the end. With 3:28 left in the game, the Huskies mounted one last drive starting at their own 28 yardline.
Paced by the hard running of Dante Viggers and Cole Halley, the Huskies moved down the field. With time running short the Huskies had to turn to the pass and gained 17 yards on a pass from QB Dylan Kepon to Ryan Wiegman. Two plays later, on a similar pass play, Ferndale's Bradley Martin leaped high in the air to intercept the ERV pass at the Mustang 15 yardline and the win was safe with just 00:26 left to play. Ferndale took a knee and the title was in hand with the 12-6 win by the Mustangs.
The front line of both teams were extremely tough and ERV's David Reed, Jasper Bernstein, Nik Lourenzo and Robbie Yates led the charge for their team. The Huskies were led by head coach Lonnie Lourenzo. Ferndale countered with a terrific effort in the trenches by Ryan Isaacs, Tyler Vanderpool, Thomas Rivelle, Austin Glidersleeve and Clayton Wiseman. It was the 3rd AAA title in just 4 years for Ferndale head coach Jim Cook who seems to be getting used to the Gatorade soaking at the end of these championship games.
In the SRYF Double AA championship game, it was the undefeated Ferndale Mustangs against the unbeaten Del Norte Gold. The Del Norte team was bigger up front then the Mustangs but Ferndale was scrappy all game long. After a scoreless 1st quarter, the Del Norte running game paid off as they finished off a 11 play drive with a one-yard touchdown. Going for a two point conversion, Del Norte led 8-0. Ferndale was determined to stay in the game and get that touchdown back and was led by the running of back Jesse Barrer.
Ferndale was led defensively by Wyatt Coppini and Ryan Earley and the Stangs kept the game close into the 2nd half. The Mustangs thought they had the big play they needed when quarterback Nathan Hansen hit receiver Cade Dixon for a 35-yard gain but it was called back due to a penalty. Ferndale's late game desperation led to an interception by Del Norte and the runback to the Mustang endzone made for a final score of 16-0 win for Del Norte Gold. The Mustangs had a fine season under the leadership of head coach Steve Earley
The Mustangs were also in the Single A championship game against the Eureka Jacks. It was a defensive stalemate for most of the game and twice the Mustangs were knocking on the door for a score, twice penalties backed them up out of contention. The Mustangs even had to survive two fumbles in the game and did so with tough defense. However, the telling play was a late errant pass by Ferndale that was picked off and ran 30 yards to the Mustangs endzone by Eureka. That play proved to be the difference as Eureka won the title 6-0. The Mustangs Single A also had a fine season, coached by Travis Shinn.
photos by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon
1. The Ferndale Mustangs were crowned the Six Rivers Youth Football Triple AAA Champions by virtue of their 12-6 win over the ERV Huskies this past Sunday at HSU. The game went back and forth as the Mustangs held a lead only to see the Huskies tie it by halftime. Scoring again in the 3rd quarter the Mustangs held a slim lead to the final minutes only to see the Huskies mount one last drive for the win however, a Ferndale interception in the redzone with 00:26 to play clinched the game and the championship for the Mustangs.
2. Ferndale Mustang runningback Blaine Becksted fights for extra yardage as ERV defenders Ben Flackus (No. 2) and Nik Lourenzo look to limit his gain on the play. Becksted proved to be the workhorse for the Mustangs with his hard running but it took a total team effort and one final interception by Ferndale's Brad Martin to offset a terrific team effort by the Huskies as the Stangs claimed the SRYF Triple AAA title Sunday at HSU by a score of 12-6.