Ferndale Wildcats No. 1 seed in NCS Div. 5 playoffs; Team hosts No. 8 Upper Lake Saturday

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

The regular season is complete and it's on to a new chapter for the Ferndale Wildcats football team. On Saturday they begin defending their No. 1 seeding in the North Coast Section Division 5 football playoffs. The Cats polished off the St. Bernard's Crusaders last Saturday afternoon in Eureka with a regular season finale win by the score of 41-20. Ferndale was severely tested as turnovers early in the contest gave the Crusaders all the momentum and every opportunity at an upset win. However, come gut-check time, the Wildcats came roaring from behind to win yet another league title. Up first for Ferndale in the postseason will be a home game against the No. 8 seeded Upper Lake Cougars. Losers of three in a row to end the regular season, the Cougars are searching for answers to the skid in which they have scored no more than 8 points in those losses.

Last Saturday the Wildcats did battle with the Crusaders in the regular season finale. St. Bernard's was fired up for sure and Ferndale's three turnovers in their first three possessions added to the fire in the Crusaders camp. Two fumbles and an interception was all Ferndale had to show for its efforts in the first quarter after 12 offensive plays and the three turnovers. St. Bernard's cashed in on their second possession of the ball game as a halfback pass from Shed Bean to Sierra Domingo covered 18 yards and gave the home team a 7-0 lead. The Crusaders added to their lead after the interception, as just three plays into the second period Domingo caught yet another touchdown pass, this time from quarterback Christian Mello.

Ferndale fans saw reason for concern as the Cats found themselves two touchdowns down in an important league contest. The Wildcats got untracked with a five play drive covering 76 yards, first by land, then by air came the Cats. Four rushes covered 29 yards, then Ferndale quarterback Kyle Chambers connected with Justin Lang for a 47-yard touchdown pass at the 8:52 mark of the second quarter. But the Wildcats were not out of the woods , as the Crusaders answered with a whopping 66-yard pass completion for another touchdown as QB Mello found Shed Bean alone behind the Ferndale defense. Just like that, the Cats were down again by two touchdowns.

Ferndale would right the ship from there as their next possession lasted seven plays and ended with a Kyle Chambers pass to wideout Wyatt Standley in the corner of the Crusader end zone. The 14-yard pass reception by Standley gave him a touchdown catch in each of the Wildcats six league games this season. This kid can run, jump and catch the ball however, the Wildcats still found themselves behind and the 20-14 score held up until halftime. Ferndale came out blazing in the second half as Jacoby Hughes erupted for a 51-yard touchdown run just three offensive plays into the third quarter. A Chris Catana PAT kick gave the Wildcats their first lead of the afternoon at 21-20.

A joint sack of the St. Bernard's quarterback by Catana and Hunter Van Emmerik was followed by a interception by Wildcat lineman Trevor Earley. Earley came very close to scoring as he rumbled 24 yards to the Crusader 3-yard line. Ferndale QB Kyle Chambers took it from there on a sneak into the end zone the very next play. Big plays by Jacoby Hughes and runningback Justin Lang carried the Cats further and Lang sped to a 39 yard touchdown as the third quarter would down. The Lang score quieted a rowdy St. Bernard's crowd as they voiced their displeasure at some of the calls and the way the momentum had swung. The Crusaders had five 15-yard personal fouls calls and an ejection at that point.

Jacoby Hughes added more big plays from there as he had a 25-yard punt return and later a 22 yard touchdown run on a deceptive play that fooled not only the Crusader defense but also the fans on both sides of the field. One final PAT by Catana wrapped up the scoring at 41-20 in favor of the Wildcats and the game ended with the Crusaders foiled on a last second score as the horn sounded St. Bernard's had been stopped at the Ferndale one yard line. Hughes and Lang each rushed over 100 yards on the afternoon and Kyle Chambers threw for 87 yards and the two scoring touchdowns. Not a total loss for St. Bernard's as they landed as the No. 4 seed in Division 5 and will also host this Saturday at 1 p.m. versus No. 5 Berean Christian.

Ferndale wrapped up in a bow their 14th straight Little Four League title and have considerable momentum for the NCS playoffs. The Wildcats also clinched the Little Four junior varsity crown as Ferndale bested St. Bernard's 14-0 in the preliminary bout. Runningback Cody Allen again rushed for over 100 yards and scored a 29-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Prior Allen's runs of 15 and 19 yards to start the third quarter led to Ferndale's other score, a one-yard plunge by quarterback Bradley Martin. Allen and Martin also hooked up on a 28 yard pass with Allen doing the throwing and Martin on the receiving end of a game changing play. Martin also had an interception, as did St. Bernard's defensive back Logan Thrap. Ferndale ran the table on the league games and clinched the crown with shutouts in the last three games of their season.

Ferndale Lady Cats host NCS volleyball playoff

The Ferndale High girls volleyball squad earned a berth in the upcoming North Coast Section Division 6 bracket. This week the No. 8 seeded Lady Cats host the No. 9 seed Chinese Christian (Wednesday after our deadline) and both teams come in with identical 11-13 records. But don't let the lack of wins keep you at home as the Wildcats when on their game have proven to be very good at this level. The fact that some of the Ferndale losses come at the hands of teams like Arcata and Eureka, the Lady Cats have seen very good competition. The team is coming together at the end of the season and will be led at the net by Maci Branstetter and Meagan Earley. Senior setter and official team cheerleader Kelsey Meyers will be setting up the kills at net and the Cats will get strong overall play from Anna Gomes, Nicole Vollmer, Corabelle Esmailian and senior Kaylee Armstrong. Good luck to the girls this week and Ferndale head coach Melissa Throssel and hopefully we will have a couple of wins to report next edition.

Photos by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

1. Ferndale junior varsity running back Cody Allen works his way upfield with Wildcat blockers clearing the way through St. Bernard's defenders. Allen rushed for better than 100 yards, scored a 4th quarter touchdown and the Cats broke a scoreless tie at the half to beat the Crusaders 14-0.

2. Big playmaker for the Wildcats, Jacoby Hughes is unended by the Crusaders Nicholas Genevro in last Saturday's regular season finale. Hughes scored touchdowns on runs of 22 and 51 yards and Ferndale overcame an early deficit to top St. Bernard 41-20. Both teams move on to host North Coast Section, Division V games this Saturday at 1 p.m.