Wildcats host Huskies for Milk Can battle; both teams coming off lopsided wins

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

Pull on the helmets and strap on the pads, it's time for the annual battle for Eel River Valley bragging rights in high school football, the battle for the coveted "Milk Can." This year's version promises to be a humdinger as both Fortuna and Ferndale have shown an ability to dominate their opponents just a couple of weeks into the season. The Huskies are showing midseason form and have not yet allowed a point through two lopsided victories. The Wildcats came out strong in their initial game of the season versus Del Norte, built a big lead then cruised to an easy win last Friday. Something will have to give come Saturday at 2 p.m. on Coach Carlson Field in Ferndale when the two unbeaten teams collide.

Last Friday evening the Fortuna Huskies duplicated their first week efforts, defending home field and dominating yet another opponent. The Healdsburg Greyhounds looked poised to give the Huskies a game in the early minutes as each team punted away their first possession of the contest. But that early stalemate proved to be temporary as the Fortuna defense stopped Healdsburg once again, then the offense cashed in on their second possession of the game. Husky quarterback Jacob Hough hit receiver Kyle Wiegman for a 24-yard touchdown pass, capping off a eight-play drive; Fortuna jumped to a 7-0 lead.

Fortuna again scored on their third possession of the game. This time it was the quick strike as just three plays were needed to cover 69 yards. Husky running back Travis Milich bolted down the visitors sideline setting up a first and goal; two plays later Milich did the honors with a 2-yard dash to the end zone. Place kicker Bryant Head kicked his 2nd PAT of the evening and the Huskies jumped to a 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. Fortuna would go on to add another Travis Milich touchdown run in the second period, this time covering 12 yards. It would be until their fifth possession of the ball game that the Greyhounds finally picked up a first down; however, that drive ended with a Milich interception.

Prior to halftime, Fortuna back Brett Renner ran in a short touchdown on the third play of a Husky drive that was set up by two pass completions from quarterback Jacob Hough. Josh Simmons and Kyle Wiegman were on the receiving end of those passes. Another Head PAT kick and the Huskies led 28-0 by the half. Head would go on to post a five-for-five night in PAT kicks and Kalen Barcelos streaked 30 yards to a second-half touchdown. The Fortuna scoring was complete with a fourth-quarter safety by the defense and Fortuna won 37-0. Speaking of the Husky defense, for the second week in a row, Fortuna pitched another shutout. The Husky defense has been stingy to give up positive yardage and first downs to the opponents.

To the north, the Ferndale Wildcats kicked off their season with a trip to Del Norte, this after sitting out a first week bye. The Cats wasted no time dispatching the Del Norte Warriors as they jumped to a 36-0 lead by halftime, then cruised to the 36-13 end result. Senior Justin Lang put up the first points of the evening on a 35-yard touchdown scamper. Running back Kaden Zanone ran in a two-point conversion and an early 8-0 lead. Quarterback Kyle Chambers then ran in a 47-yard keeper for a touchdown and Lang added a PAT kick for a 15-0 lead after a quarter. Chambers then came back and scorched the Warrior defense through the air as he hooked up with wide receiver Jacoby Hughes for three touchdown passes in the second quarter.

Seeing that the Del Norte defense was playing up tight to the line of scrimmage against the run, the Cats went to the air and Hughes caught scoring passes of 31,45 and 77 yards. With the Ferndale defense playing lights out against the Warriors, the Wildcats had a comfortable margin by the halftime break. Pulling up on the reins in the second half, the Cats did not score in the third period and the Warriors came back for two touchdowns in the final quarter for the final margin. Ferndale's Kaden Zanone had two interceptions of Del Norte passes in the first half of play, Kelly O'Day and Dakota Ward added second-half interception picks of their own. The Cats did have multiple fumbles, something they will have to work on as Saturday's showdown with the Huskies looms.

In junior varsity news, the Fortuna Huskies posted their first win of the season, a 22-0 victory over Healdsburg. The Huskies wanted to get on the right track after several miscues cost them a chance at a win in the season opener. However, on their first offensive play of the game, the Huskies fumbled. That would prove to be a slight setback as the Fortuna defense held strong and the offense broke through. Quarterback Zach Hugh hit receiver Dylan Kepon for a 35-yard pass play that set up a touchdown run by running back Daniel Villalvazo. Fortuna held a slim lead at the half 6-0 but came out a different team in the third quarter.

Playing with much more determination, the Huskies scored on their first possession of the half. A 40-yard scamper by quarterback Zach Hugh on a keeper found paydirt and Ryan Wiegman ran in a two-point conversion. Villalvazo broke off a 37-yard touchdown run and he and Wiegman combined for a sack of the opposing quarterback for a third quarter safety. Fortuna defender Jonathan Roberts had two QB sacks in the second half and the defense prevailed with the shutout. "We talked about some things at halftime and we came out with more confidence in that second half", said JV head coach Adam Pinkerton, who gave a shout out to his defense for their efforts. The Ferndale Wildcats junior varsity came up short up at Del Norte, losing by a score of 19-0. Not much for details available other than the penalties were a big part of the result.

Photo captions:

Photos by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

1. Fortuna's Brett Renner crashes down on Healdsburg quarterback Scott Reynolds for a sack and a big loss on the play, as the Huskies shut out yet another opponent in the Greyhounds on Aug. 31. Fortuna runningback Travis Milich eclipsed the century mark in rushing again, scoring two touchdowns. The Husky offensive and defensive fronts controlled the line of scrimmage and Fortuna ran off with a 37-0 victory over Healdsburg to improve to 2-0 on the season.

2. Will the Ferndale Wildcats once again claim the infamous Milk Can after their showdown against the Fortuna Huskies Saturday in the Cream City? Last weekend the Cats opened their season with a convincing 36-13 road win over the Del Norte Warriors. Meanwhile, the Fortuna Huskies shutout their second opponent in a row, as they topped the Healdsburg Greyhounds 37-0.