Football season for the Warriors is getting close to an exciting close and Warrior basketball head coach Blaine Lopez is welcoming the 2013–2014 hoopsters to the basketball court.
This is always a great time of the year as Thunen Gym will again be packed with loud, supportive fans. It is also a time of year when I look back at the Del Norte basketball season that turned out to be one of the most exciting, most fulfilling experiences of my athletic career.
This was the 2001–2002 Warrior season, and I was neither a player nor a coach. The team’s head coach was Kirk Burrows, who had a very successful career with the Warriors during one stretch. He was assisted by Dale Thomas, who is a former Warrior head basketball and football coach and a recent inductee into the Del Norte Athletic Hall of Fame.
While attending an early season game, I saw that an athletic trainer was needed to help with the care of one of the players with a sprained ankle. I volunteered to help and from that day forward I got to attend every practice and every game, home or away, to take care of their training needs.
As I followed the team it won game after exciting game. The team won the Humboldt-Del Norte League championship and advanced to the North Coast Section Playoffs.
This group was made up of AJ Webster, Travis Webster, Derrick McCullach, Justin Clifton, Freddy Robinson, Danny Fry, Flynt Pierce, Matt Getman, Billy Lund, Erik Eggen, Levi Pulley, Neil Hemminson and Travis Coulson, and they just had no quit in them.
They made it to the NCS Championship game in Santa Rosa and in that game were trailing in the fourth quarter by 18 points. The team kept battling and with 4 seconds to go Del Norte had cut the lead to 1 point. The ball went out of bounds under the Warrior basket and Del Norte had possession.
The inbounds pass went to Justin Clifton, who stepped around his defender and put the ball in the basket for a Warrior win and a North Coast Section Championship.
My wife said I still had tears in my eyes when I got home the next day. This is a Warrior memory I will always treasure, and a group of players and coaches I will always respect. They are a special group.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High sports. He played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, later serving as the school’s football coach for a number of years.