By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
It's game time Warrior fans.
Tonight's the night that players, coaches and fans of Del Norte High varsity football have waited for with bated breaththe first game of the season.
At 7:30 p.m., the Warriors take on border rival Brookings-Harbor at the Bruins home field.
Last year, Brookings-Harbor traveled to Crescent City and pulled off a 14-7 win.
Del Norte was able to bounce back from that loss in a big way, going undefeated in the Big-5 conference and winning two North Coast Section playoff games before falling to Novatosuffering their first loss since the Brookings game.
Head coach Lewis Nova said there's always a lot of anxiety before the first match-up of the season, but believes the team is ready to go out and perform well.
And it's always exciting to face the across-the-border rival, he said.
After all, many Del Norte residents have friends and co-workers who are Brookings residents, and they want to do well against the team that handed the Warriors a loss last season.
"They're excited," Nova said about his players. "They have friends and know people (from Brookings). This is a big game for us."
Del Norte has been working hard at practice this week, and Nova said he has liked the way that both the offense and defense have operated. He added that having a core group of veterans returning has made a big difference.
Nova commended the younger team members for stepping up and the veterans for closely working with them and being mentors.
"They have tutored them and helped them along," he said.
Nova acknowledged the Bruins as a solid team. Last week, Brookings opened the season on the road, blanking Bandon, Ore., 21-0.
The Bruins starting running back, Nick Morris, rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Nova said Brookings is a good rushing team and knows the defense needs to contain the run and control the line of scrimmage.
On defense, Brookings is aggressive, and Nova said his squad will be on the lookout for the blitz rush.
Going into the game, the Warriors are coming in a little bit banged up.
Matt Wakefield, who formed a running back tandem with Trevor Rook last year, has a slight concussion, and to be cautious, will not play tonight, Nova said.
Brock Coulson, a starter on defense, suffered a shoulder injury in the Big 5 Conference Jamboree last week and is out. Brent Morrison, who plays on both the defensive and offensive line is out with a back injury.
There are other players that are banged up who Nova expects to play in some capacity against Brookings.
Nova said it's now a matter of the team "stepping it up" and the back-ups "filling the holes." Now, the team needs to go out onto the field and see what happens.
"We'll see what we're made of," Nova said.
Senior quarterback Chad Freeman said he and his teammates "have been waiting all year" for Friday night to come and said the squad is determined to avenge last year's loss with a victory in Brookings.
"We want to win the first game," he said. "It sets the tone" for the season.
Freeman added it always means a lot to the players to see the enthusiastic support of Del Norte fans, who, as usual, are expected to come out in force and make the short drive to Brookings.
"I'm sure there'll be a lot of our fans at the game," Freeman said. "We always get great community support."
The Warriors first home game is Friday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. against Hidden Valley, Ore. Del Norte defeated them last year 38-14 in an away game.