Fall sports roundup, football, soccer and more; new coaches on both sides of the river

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

It's full speed ahead for the high school fall sports schedule as several sports are in taking place right now, close to home for area fans to enjoy. While high school football continues to draw the biggest crowds, there is plenty of excitement in the other sports as well. Soccer, girls golf and tennis are in full swing, cross country came to Fortuna this week and just in case the weather turns bad, fans can move indoors and take in a volleyball match. Most sports have retained coaches from last year, though there are some new faces at Ferndale and Fortuna High.

Both the Fortuna and Ferndale varsity boys football teams are coming off Friday night losses, so coaches this week have been working towards recapturing precious momentum as the preseason wraps up and league games are upon us. The Fortuna Huskies, defending Big 5 champions, absorbed a league-opening weekend loss. Arcata speedy back Tyler Keil not only had two touchdowns on offense, he added three interceptions of Husky passes to lead the Tiger effort. The Arcata defense for the most part stifled the Fortuna offense as the Husky scores came from a kickoff return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery ran back for a score. Both of those big plays were pulled off by Fortuna back Colton Ross; otherwise, the Huskies were kept off the scoreboard.

Besides Keil, Arcata backfield mate Aleric Stone came up big as well and the two backs combined for 252 yards on 42 rushing plays. Arcata scored in every quarter and topped the Huskies 36-12. Fortuna totaled seven turnovers against Arcata and it was the first Tiger win over the Huskies since the 2006 season. The junior varsity had a better result as they topped the Tigers by a score of 20-6. Both the varsity and the JV sport a record of 2-2 on the season; on Friday night, Fortuna travels to McKinleyville to take on the Panthers.

Meanwhile, the Ferndale Wildcats met with a similar fate on the road as they lost to the Argonaut High Mustangs in Jackson. The Mustangs were huge up front and were very good at what they do, which is run the football. Fielding a offensive and defensive line that averaged better than 250 pounds, Argonaut was tough up front. Running the double wing, toss offense, the Mustangs used a wall of those big boys to surge ahead and put up 298 yards rushing on the Wildcats. Despite going behind early, the Cats fought back and midway through the second quarter Ferndale scored a touchdown on quarterback Kyle Chamber's 5 yard run. That score got the Wildcats to within seven points of the Mustangs at 14-7 but that was as close as it would get.

Argonaut added a touchdown run prior to the half and one more final score in the fourth quarter to tally a 27-7 win. Ferndale did find some success on the ground as Justin Lang, Kaden Zanone, Jacoby Hughes and Ike Townsend combined for 163 yards rushing. Ferndale also lost the junior varsity game by a score of 35-15 as the JVs fell to a record of 1-2. Despite the loss, the Wildcats are in good stead for their big game this Saturday evening against the Eureka Loggers. The Cats came out of the Argonaut game without any serious injuries and will be 100 percent when they take the field against the Loggers.

Fortuna girls soccer went on a run last week as they took on the smaller school in the HDN. The Lady Huskies topped the girls from Ferndale and St. Bernard's by identical 10-0 scores. Things got a little tighter Saturday against South Fork as the game played in Fortuna saw a scoreless first half played out. The Huskies rallied in the 2nd half and goals by Rachel Hess and Merritt Schoenhofer gave Fortuna a 2-0 win over the Cubs. Also a tight game was the boys contest as Fortuna hung on for a 2-1 win over South Fork. Fortuna's Frankie Calderon found the back of the net for the Huskies, then an inadvertent own goal by the Cubs was the difference maker in the second period. The Huskies are a young team this season but are a scrappy bunch and Calderon has provided most of the offense.

Ferndale was not able to field a boys soccer team this season so former boys coach Tyson Boynton moved over to coach the girls team. Boynton is in his fourth year with the program though this will be his first season with the girls team. The Lady Cats are also a young squad and at present have just one senior on the team. Though the Cats got shut out by the Huskies last week, the team rebounded and played well against the McKinleyville Panthers. Ferndale came back from an early deficit and goals by Emma Gomes and Irene Alvarado brought the Cats to within one goal however, a penalty kick goal by the Panthers put it out of reach and the final was 4-2.

Girls high school tennis is well underway and Fortuna is in a rebuilding year after graduating some talent last season. Though young, first year head coach Robert Gearhart has high hopes for the team this year and beyond. In a preseason tournament in Redding, the doubles team of Michaelyn Mullen and Reanne Metzger won first place in their division. Teammates Katie Holland and Coleen Sandberg captured third place in their doubles division. Sophomore Angela Gearhart won 3 of 5 matches in the top division as the #1 seeded player from Fortuna. Gearhart also won at #1 singles closer to home when Fortuna took on Arcata and Eureka tennis teams recently.

In girls high school golf, the Lady Huskies have two players ranked in the top 10 through two events. Fortuna's Moriah Aguiar has finished in 5th place at both the Beau Pre and Redwood Empire Golf Course. Shooting a 97 at her home course this Tuesday kept her firmly amongst the top players in the HDN. Just a couple of spots behind is Fortuna's Amanda Arneson as she shot a 105 at Redwood and finished in seventh place. McKinleyville continues to lead the team standings and Fortuna moved up a spot passing Eureka at the Redwood Empire event.

Girls high school volleyball has new coaches on both sides of the river at the varsity level. Fortuna's program is now in the hands of Kathi Meskill who coached the sport for 15 years at Cuddyback. In preseason, the Huskies placed second in the Silver Division of the Piner Invitational Tournament. More recently, the Huskies split in a pair of home matches. Coming up short when they hosted the Eureka Loggers, the Huskies lost two pivotal sets by 26-24 scores, then fell in straight sets to the Loggers. The team rebounded the following night as they swept the St. Bernards team in straight sets. Taylor Barnhart had 10 kills for the Huskies and mid-match saw Nicole Johnson reel off nine straight unanswered points from serve. Ferndale also has a new coach, Melissa Throssel heads up a small but proven varsity squad of Wildcats. Though the Cats did graduate some quality players from last season, Ferndale has two seniors to lead the team, more on the Lady Cats later.

Let us not forget youth football. The Ferndale Mustangs Triple AAA team captured a big win last Sunday over the Redwood Youth Football Knights. The Knights scored first in the game to put the Mustangs in a early deficit. Ferndale answered with a Blaine Zanone touchdown run to make for a 6-6 halftime score. The Mustangs then added a quarterback sneak by Nathan Hansen in the third period but it would be a strong fourth quarter that put the game away. Mustang linemen Tony Valverde, Tanner Hall and Austin Gildersleeve all recorded sacks of Knights quarterback Jack Rice in the final period. Ferndale later needed four plays to go the final six yards against a determined Knights defense but back Ryan Earley scored on a one yard plunge. The Mustangs put the game on ice with one more final score, runningback Zanone going 12 yards for the touchdown. A QB Hansen throw to RB Earley for a two-point conversion made a final score of 27-6.

Elsewhere the Eel River Valley Huskies AAA team fell to McKinleyville by a score of 32-6. In double AA action Ferndale came up short to Redwood Youth, 20-13, ERV was shut out 43-0 versus McKinleyville and ERV Blue had a bye week. Single A saw Ferndale absorb their first loss of the season to Redwood by a 38-6 score. ERV Blue won big up in McKinleyville (White) by a score of 44-7 but ERV White was on the short end of a 33-7 score against McKinleyville Black. Sunday will see Eel River host games at Fortuna High every two hours starting at 8 a.m. versus Eureka and Southern Humboldt. Ferndale will travel to Hoopa on Sunday for games in all three divisions.

photo caption:

Photo by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

Redwood Youth Football Knights runningback Hunter Stapp breaks into the Ferndale secondary as Cade Dixon (23), Jesse Barrer (32) and fellow Mustangs close in to make the tackle on Sunday in Ferndale. Stapp made 12 yards on the play however, the Mustangs broke open a close game with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and won going away 27-6. Ferndale's Ryan Earley, Nathan Hansen and Blaine Zanone all scored touchdowns and the AAA Mustangs improved to 2-1 on the season.