Del Norte outgained 412-154 Friday night
With the Del Norte High varsity football team staring down another three-touchdown deficit at halftime, it was worth wondering whether the Warriors could make up ground yet again.
Arcata High, the newly crowned Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League champions, quashed those hopes early.
The Tigers rolled over Del Norte, 26-0, at Humboldt State Universtiy’s Redwood Bowl on Friday night. It was the first time the Warriors (2-7 overall, 1-5 Big 5 League) had been shut out this season.
Tigers senior Aleric Stone scored two touchdowns, and junior Tyler Keil and sophomore Connor Cox each caught touchdown passes. Arcata finished its season Friday night with a perfect 7-0 record in Big 5 League play (9-1 overall).
The Tigers outgained the Warriors, 412 yards to 154, on the night, including 319 total rushing yards.
Del Norte quarterback Dylan Pease could never get comfortable, completing just three of 10 passes for 33 yards and an interception. Sophomore Chad Bell gained 36 yards in his third start at running back.
The Warriors began the game with an onside kick, trying to catch the Tigers off-guard, but Arcata recovered the ball. Seven plays later, Aleric Stone ran for a 1-yard touchdown, putting Arcata up 6-0.
The Tigers returned the favor on Del Norte with an onside kick that Arcata managed to recover, and two plays later quarterback Chad Blickenstaff found tight end Connor Cox for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Three minutes and 12 seconds came off the clock before the Warriors got to touch the ball.
Del Norte attempted to manufacture momentum when Warriors head coach Ray Rook called for a fake punt in the second quarter.
Junior Aaron Fitch, the Del Norte punter, fumbled the ball on the fake, but Warriors lineman Cristian Puente picked it up and rumbled 40 yards for a first down. It would be the longest carry of the game by a Del Norte runner.
Ultimately, the Warriors failed to convert on a fourth-down pass play. Senior safety Matthew Lesh intercepted Blickenstaff on Arcata’s next possession, but Del Norte went three-and-out.
Tyler Keil took Fitch’s punt — no fakes at this point — to the Del Norte 19-yard line. Four plays later, Stone caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Blickenstaff for an 18-0 halftime lead.
Warriors linebacker/wide receiver Napooi Shorty successfully recovered Arcata’s onside kick to open the second half, and the Warriors orchestrated a drive. However, the drive stalled at the Tigers’ 23-yard line, and Pease’s pass was intercepted in the end zone.
Arcata executed a ball-control offense during the second half, throwing a single pass — Blickenstaff to Keil for 21 yards and six points. Keil ran in the two-point conversion for what would become the final score of the game.
In the junior varsity game, Del Norte improved to 7-2 overall with a 37-12 victory over the Tigers.
The Warriors conclude their season at home against McKinleyville Friday.