Del Norte rests during the bye, hopes to finish the season strongly
The Del Norte football team is in good position during the bye week, with a 3-4 overall record, 3-2 in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5.
The Warriors know that they have plenty of work to do yet this fall, however.
“We haven’t quite completed the mission of the things that we set out to do yet,” said head coach Ray Rook. “We have a good chance here in the second half of the season to turn those things around. We have already started ... hopefully we can continue that.”
One of the team’s missions this season is to make the playoffs. The Warriors are currently sitting in strong position to qualify with a 3-1 record against Division IV teams with just two more division games to play.
“We want to finish on a good note so that we can get a decent bid and go in on a win,” Rook said. “I don’t want to back in, so to speak.”
The Warriors have won two straight games with a 49-0 win in Arcata and a thrilling 22-21 victory over McKinleyville during the Panthers’ homecoming.
“The kids are upbeat. They won a tough game last week,” Rook said. “This time of year is always a grind. It is a grind for the coaches, so I know it has to be a grind for the kids. I think this is a good week to have a bye week. It is always nice to have a bye week before homecoming.”
Del Norte is using the time to work on skills and on depth.
“Just like every bye week, we are going back to the fundamentals and trying to improve our skills,” Rook said. “We are also trying to continue to fill some holes and try to get some people reps at spots that they may not have gotten yet.”
Rook also said that the team has started to install a game plan for rival Eureka, whom the Warriors play next Friday for homecoming.
Del Norte was bitten by the injury bug early in the season when senior Jordan Carpenter went down with an injury at Eureka in the fourth game of the season, and senior David Plechaty was injured in week 3 against Shasta and has sat out since week 5.
Both are out for the season, Rook said.
“That is always tough, because they will never get the chance to play or suit up again,” Rook said. “You never know when that is going to happen. The good thing is that kids have been able to fill in for the most part. They are tough losses no matter how you look at it, though.”
Carpenter was one of Del Norte’s top running backs and the starting middle linebacker. Plechaty was one of the team’s best linemen.
“It has really been a team effort (to replace them), it is not one individual,” Rook said. “There are two or three guys that have contributed on the offensive line in little spurts. We are still working with that and we will continue to work with that this season because (Plechaty) was a huge hole to fill.
“Carpenter has been in our multitude of running backs on offense and on defense it has been a team effort to replace him. We took a corner and moved him into middle linebacker. He was able to do well there, so we move another corner and another safety. It has really been a team effort.”
The Warriors have also been experimenting with a two-quarterback system this season, as senior Dylan Pease and junior Stevie Maready have split time.
“We want to put kids where their strengths can help the team,”
Although neither player takes every snap at quarterback, both Pease and Maready are mainstays in the Warrior backfield. When one is playing quarterback, the other is almost always in the slot running back position.
“They help each other out in both roles,” Rook said. “In the McKinleyville game, one of them audibled when he was at the running back position, the other one heard him and audibled and it was a good play. They ended up converting on the two-point play.”
The two-quarterback system has been successful this season because of the team-first attitude of both players.
“They are both great guys,” Rook said. “If I would ask them to play center and guard they would do it. That is what I love about both of them. They are kind of iconic of what we want in the program.”
After a week off, Del Norte will host Eureka on Friday at the high school for the Warriors’ homecoming. Del Norte was beaten 24-6 in Eureka in week 4.