By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Preparing the next group of football players for varsity is a priority for the coaching staff of the Del Norte High Freshman and Junior Varsity squads.
JV coach Ray Rook, who coaches the offense, said the JV program gets the younger players ingrained into the system that will be used on the varsity level and helps develop raw football players.
Last season, the Warriors' JV squad finished with a 4-6 mark. While the team wants to win all the games it can, Rook said the coaches and players understand the important thing is the experience of having the players being on the field and learning in live game action.
Each year, several JV players get chosen by the varsity coaches to play as sophomores, and sometimes even as freshmen.
Already this year, several players have been chosen to move up to varsity.
During practices, Rook said the team has been working hard and has "gotten better every day and at every practice," he said.
The Warriors open the season on Friday at Brookings. The game will be held before the start of the varsity match.
Rook said the team has looked solid, and has been proud of the way they have dealt with injuries and have had backups step up.
The biggest injury was suffered by starting quarterback Travis Shellabarger, who held the position last year. He recently suffered a knee injury and is not expected to play on Friday against Brookings.
A timetable for his return has yet to be determined. In his place, Rook said backup Thor Hadfield has done a nice job taking over, and he's comfortable having him start the opening game.
Rook and defensive coach Nat Parrott have been coaching the team while head coach Steve Lewis is on vacation in Portugal with his father.. He is expected to return for the Brookings game on Friday.
For Parrott, it's wonderful to work with players who are raw, and who through hard work and coaching develop into good football players.
"I love it," he said. "It keeps me young. I enjoy working with them and watching them progress."
Parrott said he enjoys seeing how they develop and continue on to the varsity football team.
Also, the majority of the coaching staff have been together for several years and a bond has formed between them.
"It's like a family," Parrott said.
Freshman coach John Valdez has coached the squad for two years and said he loves working with the youngest group of Warrior football players.
"It's most rewarding when we see them improving," Valdez said. "This program helps them develop their football skills"
The freshman team opens the season at home on Thursday against North Medford, Ore., at 5 p.m
Football schedule for the Freshman team
Sept. 6: North Medford, Ore., at home. 5 p.m.
Sept. 13: Eagle Point, Ore. on the road, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: Crater, Ore., at home, 5 p.m.
Sept. 27: Grants Pass, Ore. at home, 5 p.m.
Oct. 4: Fortuna on the road, 6 p.m.
Oct. 11: Eureka on the road, 6 p.m.
Oct. 18: Fortuna at home, 6 p.m.
Oct. 25, Eureka on the road, 6 p.m.
Nov 1: McKinleyville at home, 6 p.m.
Football Schedule for the JV team
Sept. 7: Brookings on the road, tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m.
Sept 14: Hidden Valley Ore, at home, 5 p.m.
Sept. 21: McKinleyville on the road, 5 p.m.
Sep. 28: Fortuna on the road, 5 p.m.
Oct. 5: Arcata at home, 5 p.m.
Oct. 12: Eureka on the road, 5 p.m.
Oct. 19: Fortuna at home, 5 p.m.
Oct. 26, Arcata on the road, 5 p.m.
Nov. 2 McKinleyville at home, 5 p.m.