By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
CRESCENT CITY Only one game away from the North Coast Section 2A championship match, the undefeated Del Norte Warriors will face Novato in the third round of the NCS playoffs for the second straight year on Saturday.
The NCS Redwood Empire Region playoff regional recognition game is set for 1:30 p.m. at Novato High School.
The Hornets will be a formidable opponent for the Warriors and bring an 11-0 mark into the contest.
On Saturday, after having a first-round bye, Novato, the No. 1 seed, thoroughly dominated No. 4 seed Terra Linda. Up 53-7 at the half, The Hornets went on to a 53-21 victory.
Del Norte, the No. 3 seed with an 11-0 record has had a spectacular season, including earning its third straight Big 5 Conference crown and winning two playoff games at home.
Last year, Del Norte was in the same spot they're in this year, having to make the long trek to the Bay Area to face the Hornets, which ended in a 58-0 loss. Novato went on to win the 2A championship
All season, Warrior coaches and players have said they have been striving to return to this point againto face Novato and defeat them.
Warrior Head Coach Lewis Nova said the players and coaches are excited and ready to work hard this week in practice to get ready for Saturday's game, continue to execute the way they have been and "try to work on a couple of things."
"We'll go down there and play them the best we can," Nova said, adding his team accepts the challenge of "playing the best" and knows to be considered an elite team they need to beat a squad like Novato.
After Friday's victory, Nova said he hoped there was a chance Saturday's game could be held at a neutral site. He said he was told by an NCS official at the playoff seedings a few weeks back, that last year's game against Novato should have been at a neutral site and they would see if that could happen this year.
When that did not happen, Nova said he was disappointed, but it did not matter where his team played, they would come out prepared and ready.
Gil Lemmon, associate commissioner of the NCS, said in the regional recognition game the higher seed normally receives the home game.
The only time that does not happen is if it's determined the stadium of the higher seed will not adequately accommodate the amount of fans estimated to attend the game.
Lemmon said he spoke to Nova at the playoff seeding meeting a few weeks ago, and said he thought there appeared to have been a misunderstanding.
When talking about a neutral site, he said he was talking about the NCS championship match, which is set for next week.
The good news is if Del Norte defeats Novato, Lemmon said they would try to have the game at Humboldt State University in Arcata, pending an agreement with stadium officials. Although the championship game was held in Oakland last year, Lemmon seed the game would be held in Arcata or Santa Rosa this year
On Nov. 17, Del Norte defeated fellow Big 5 team Fortuna 42-6. On Friday, facing No. 2 seed Healdsburg, Del Norte showed they are a team to be reckoned with by defeating the Greyhounds 25-14.
Down 14-6 at the half, Del Norte mounted a comeback in the third quarter, ignited by a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by junior Cody Hoffman, who finished the game with four touchdowns. The winner of the Del Norte- Novato game will face the winner from the East Bay Region.
On Friday night, 12-0 Las Lomas takes on 9-3 Campolindo in Los Lomas.