Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Big 5 camp, Sat. event offer preview of 2012 FB teams

The Del Norte High School football team showed up for a camp in McKinleyville on July 27andndash;29 with 66 players. The camp, which draws members of the Big 5 League and other schools, gave the Warriors an early test of their mettle.

Results were decidedly mixed.

"(The opposition) would beat us up a couple of plays," Del Norte head coach Ray Rook said. "Then we'd show a little moxie and have a couple good plays."

One drill at the camp pitted an offense against an opposing defense. The offense had to advance 10 yards in a certain number of plays to retain possession.

The Warriors maintained possession on each of the other five teams in the camp - twice.

"It was definitely a sign," Rook said, "It gave the coaching staff a sense of what this team is capable of at times.

"Then we'd do something stupid and lose the ball (on subsequent plays)."

Who are the 2012 Del Norte Warriors? They may not know themselves for a while.

It can be safely determined that the Warriors are a young team. Of the estimated 70 players on the varsity and junior varsity squads (athletic paperwork, vacations, injuries and other issues have sidelined some players), Rook has six seniors at his disposal. Del Norte will go where a cadre of talented juniors and sophomores will take it this season.

"There are very few of us that have played together," junior quarterback Aaron Fitch said.

Three of those seniors -- Lane Reichlin, Blair Westbrook and Tyler Nelson - are expected to start on the offensive line. What Reichlin calls "the smartest line that we've had" in his tenure has already given the offense a boost over the defense.

Of course, implementing Del Norte's schemes and executing at a high level offensively could take the duration of fall camp.

"Sometimes we just tear people up," Reichlin said. "Sometimes we're not experienced (enough) to finish plays."

According to Rook, the Warriors will be "even younger on defense than on offense." He has seen progression in understanding Del Norte's base defense but has also seen how far the team has to go.

"The experience is still out there for the kids to gain," Rook said. "If something happens, what are we going to do? If we're hit in the mouth, what are we going to do?

"We're going to make some plays because of our athletic ability. I love our athleticism. It goes across the board."

Keeping everyone on the same page may be a greater challenge.

"The leaders are not acting like it," Fitch said Tuesday, assessing the first two days of practice. "We should all be working together. Everybody else is just slacking off.

"It's like, we know what we're doing. We don't want to go 100 percent. We're not disciplined enough. None of us are."

Del Norte's season opener, at home against West Valley High of Cottonwood, is 15 days away. Until then, Rook figures to see his fair share of growing pains.

Blue and Gold Gatorade Bowl

On Saturday, the Warriors will host their annual pre-season scrimmage, the Blue and Gold Gatorade Bowl, at Mike Whalen Field.

The public is welcome to watch the scrimmage for the price of one bottle of Gatorade, which Del Norte uses during the season to help hydrate its players. The junior varsity scrimmage begins at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity scrimmage at 6 p.m.

Players and coaches will be available for a meet-and-greet with the public following each scrimmage.

Reach Robert Husseman at