Wildcats travel to Del Norte for season opener

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

After sitting out a first week bye, the Ferndale Wildcats will be more than ready to rumble when they take the field this Friday night to face off against the Del Norte Warriors. The Wildcats by virtue of the schedule were bystanders on the first weekend of the season, many of the team members were seen at the Fortuna versus El Molino game last Friday evening. The Cats have withstood multiple weeks of double days and pounding on each other at practice, the Humboldt-Del Norte jamboree two weeks ago being the only game-like action the boys have experienced. Don't expect much to change as Ferndale head coach Kim Jorgensen starts his 22nd season at the helm of the Wildcats program. The Wildcats program year in and year out churns out winning teams that defy the odds for a school with an enrollment under 150 students.

It remains to be seen how much the Wildcats will be affected by the first week bye. The opponents for this weekend, the Del Norte Warriors, already have one game under their belt, one game to work through those first game miscues and see where work needs to be done. The Cats do not have such a luxury, they go in to week two, cold and untested. "I think it's an advantage (the first week bye), there's a lot going on right now, you've got the fair and schools not even in session yet," said Ferndale head coach Kim Jorgensen prior to the start of the season. Still you would think the Cats would have liked to be out on the field like everyone else. "Well it is what it is, that's our schedule so we'll have to have them ready to go," added Jorgensen upon facing the Warriors for game one.

This years edition of the Ferndale Wildcats is experienced and tested in prior campaigns. A large senior class of athletes will lead the team as they once again take on the big schools in the preseason and the small schools once league gets started. Returning from last years North Coast Section Division 4 runner-ups will be several very athletic starters. Running and catching the ball will be the likes of Justin Lang, Jacoby Hughes and Kaden Zanone. Those three alone would be enough to give any opposing teams fits but the Wildcats are especially deep this year and the talent just keeps on coming. At quarterback will be junior Kyle Chambers who moves into that starting position after serving as backup last year to graduated starter Travis Rye. Chambers already has experience as a varsity player as he saw plenty of time as wide receiver last year and made some big plays for the Cats.

On the offensive and defensive fronts the Wildcats will be led by the rough and tumble players like Isaac Townsend, Trevor Earley and Chris Catana. Catana is a senior who defies the definition of a lineman, as he is athletic, but thin and wiry, he drives opposing players crazy with his ability. Townsend and Earley are more your typical linemen with size and strength, they can dominate games in the interior areas. The test at Del Norte is just the start for the Wildcats as they face a tough preseason schedule against schools much larger than Ferndale High. However, that is just what the Cats have been doing for years and with much success as well. The Ferndale Wildcats are the only Division 5 school out there crazy enough to take on the likes of Del Norte, Fortuna, Eureka and newcomer Argonaut. They are also the only small school out there with the goods to beat those teams as well.

Note: The Ferndale Wildcats will be the only team to have had a motivational session with former San Francisco 49er, Bubba Paris. Paris paid a surprise visit to a Wildcats practice session last week and gave the players quite a pep talk. William H. Paris Jr. -- aka Bubba -- was an offensive lineman standout at Michigan University. He was two-time All American in college and Academic All-Big Ten Conference. Paris was a starter on teams that won a Rose Bowl and a Blue Bonnet Bowl. He was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers out of college and played with the team for nine outstanding years. Bubba Paris has three super bowl rings from his stint with the 49ers. Paris encouraged the Wildcat players: "No matter what your size, be the best you could ever be as an individual and as a team."

Photo by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Bubba Paris made a surprise appearance at the Ferndale Wildcats practice last week. Paris offered the players some serious advice and injected some humor as well. "No matter what your size, be the best you could ever be as an individual and as a team," Paris advised while he let Wildcat lineman Zach Rocha hold his Super Bowl ring.