By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
ARCATA The Del Norte High varsity football team garnered another victory this season with a 28-0 win over Arcata on Friday.
The Warriors are now 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big 5 Conference and have all but sealed up the conference title.
For most teams, a 28-0 win would be a good showing.
But for Del Norte, there was cause for disappointment with sluggish play at times, not dominating the game and dictating the flow of the contest as they have done all season, and only having a 7-0 first quarter lead. In the second half, Del Norte did not score at all.
The team also had 75 yards worth of penalties.
"It was a very unimpressive win for us," Warrior head coach Lewis Nova said. "As a team we took a step back ... Arcata came ready to play."
Del Norte received the ball first. Throughout the season, Del Norte has moved the football with ease, almost always scoring on their first drive. This time was different as a pumped-up Tiger squad held the Warriors to a three and out and they had to punt the ball away.
The Tigers were able to move the ball to the Del Norte 35-yard line. But on second down, James Sampier was able to get to the running back for a 2-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Arcata punted.
The next two possessions, Del Norte could not seem to get its game in sync and had to punt.
As time ran down on the first quarter, things went much better.. The Warriors were able to move the ball down the field, including a 24-yard gain with a pass from Chad Freeman to Saxon Schultz. A few plays later, Freeman found Schultz again, who made it to the 13-yard line of Arcata
The next play, Freeman took the rock himself and scampered his way into the endzone for the score. After the kick by Nate Bruder went in, the Warriors took a 7-0 lead.
At the start of second quarter, the Tigers went to the air and were able to move the ball down the field fairly efficiently. But on a pass rush, Schultz came in and took down Tiger quarterback D.J. Hancock for a big loss and Del Norte eventually forced Arcata to punt.
The next possession, the Warriors moved the ball down the field again, with a long pass from Freeman to Cody Hoffman, who was able to grab the ball and make it to the 12-yard line of Arcata.
On the next play, Freeman escaped from Arcata defenders and shoveled an underhanded pass to Joseph Alexandre, who got in for the score with 3:50 left in the half. With the kick no good, the score stood at 13-0.
The Warriors continued to gain momentum when on a third down play on defense, Trevor Rook intercepted the ball and ran it to the 7-yard line of Arcata.
On fourth down and inches, Del Norte went for it and Freeman took it in for the score with less than 25 seconds remaining. The Warriors went for two and Freeman threw a pass to Bruder for the two-point conversion and the 21-0 lead.
On the kickoff, the ball hit an Arcata player and bounced back to the Warriors, who regained possession. On the second play, Freeman threw the ball to David Mendoza in the endzone for the score with four seconds left, and took a 28-0 lead.
In the second half, neither team could put the ball into the endzone. Aracta made it all the way to the goaline, but could not get it in as Del Norte held on to the win.
The Tigers did well in containing the normally explosive running game of Del Norte, which was held to only 115 total yards, the lowest output of the season. When they first played on Oct 5a 35-7 Warrior win Del Norte ran for 289 yards.
But Freeman and the receiving game had a solid night. Freeman threw for 196 yards on 14-for-20 passing and had two throwing touchdowns and two runs for scores.
Arcata dropped to 3-5 for the year.
The Warriors end the regular season at home on Nov 2 against McKinleyville, as Del Norte gets ready to begin the North Coast Section playoffs, with the hope of getting a high seed.
When asked if he thought the team would be ready for the Panthers, Nova replied, "I know they will. They won't have an option."