By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
After a sluggish first half that had Del Norte High up only 7-0, the Warriors came out much sharper the second half on the way to a 20-0 victory over Hidden Valley, Ore., Friday evening at home.
Del Norte rushed the ball three times for touchdowns, once each by running backs Trevor Rook and Matt Wakefield and the third by quarterback Chad Freeman.
The game also had a scare in the second quarter wide receiver Taylor Duncan went up for a pass and was met by a brutal, but clean hit by a Mustang defender that could be heard from the stands, and sent his helmet flying across the field.
The coaches quickly ran toward him and helped him off the field. He did not return to the game and was taken to the hospital for observation.
After the game, head coach Lewis Nova was about to visit Duncan at the hospital but did not have an update on his condition.
After coming off a dominating 48-12 win to open the season last week at Brookings, Del Norte returned home to a packed Mike Whalen Field and the usual large crowd of Warrior faithful.
The first drive by Del Norte was a successful one, as they seemingly moved the ball down the field with ease. With 9:05 left in the first quarter, Rook hammered the ball in for a 2-yard score. The extra point by James Sampier was good.
After that, Del Norte could not seem to execute on offense and Freeman threw two picks in the first half to give Hidden Valley good field position.
While the Mustangs were able to move the ball down the field into Warrior territory, they could never capitalize. The Del Norte defense was always able to come up with a key stop to make sure the game would not be tied.
With the score at 7-0 at the half, the game was certainly in a precarious spot for the Warriors. Nova said the team came out too complacent and did not take the opponent as seriously as they should have.
In the third quarter, Del Norte seemed to finally break out of the offensive funk and was able to execute better and move the ball down the field.
A key contributor was Matt Wakefield, who, with great blocks by the offensive line, broke free for several key runs.
So it was appropriate with 3:26 left in the third, he scampered in for a 9-yard run to give Del Norte a 13-0 lead. Wakefield missed last week's game due to a concussion.
"It felt great to help the team out," he said. In the fourth, Freeman ran the ball in with 7:26 left in the contest to give the Warriors the 20-0 lead and seal the victory.
The defense also continued to play well, not letting the Mustangs make a real serious threat to punch it in for a score.
Nova said he was proud that in the second half "we came back out onto the field and played a lot better."
While he congratulated his team after the win, he told them they had to come out focused and prepared when they face McKinleyville next week on the road in the first conference game of the season. "You can't overlook anybody," he said.
The Panthers lost Friday night to Arcata 35-12.
Freeman was 14-for 24 with three interceptions and a rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Cody Hoffman had a very strong game, making a number of nifty catches and had 99 yards worth of receiving. Rook rushed for 59 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Wakefield rumbled for 49 yards on five carries.