The Warrior Hall of Fame got just a little bit bigger last Friday with the induction of several new members during halftime of the Del Norte football team’s season-opening 22-0 victory over Central Valley.
The Class of 2017, seven in all, includes six former Del Norte athletes and a beloved coach.
(Track head coach, football assistant)
The late Allan Morris was the head track and field coach at Del Norte High School from 1985 until 1995, and Morris also served as an assistant football coach and defensive coordinator under multiple head football coaches.
“Al was the big kindhearted guy that kids just loved,” said Del Norte head football coach Lewis Nova, who coached for several seasons with Morris on his staff. “Everything that he did was because he wanted kids to have a better chance. He worked hard at being a defensive coordinator and a track coach and just gave everything that he had to the kids.”
Morris had a way of making corrections with his athletes without making them feel inferior.
“He had an easy way about him where you could tell he was in charge and knew what he was doing, but never raised his voice to yell at players when they made a mistake. He made corrections in a very positive way.” Dick Trone wrote in his “Warrior Memories” column in the Del Norte Triplicate on on Sept. 9, 2011, shortly after Morris’ death.
Carey Fugate — Class of 1986
(Cross country, basketball, track & field)
Carey Fugate’s athletic passion may have been basetkball, but he was also one of the top runners at Del Norte High School in the mid-80s, competing in cross country, track and field and basketball all four years of high school.
In the fall, Fugate earned a White Star his senior year while also being named Del Norte’s Mr. Cross Country.
Although Fugate was the Warriors’ top runner in cross country, with a 6-foot-2 frame and burly build, his cross country coach Jim Costello said he had an unusual build for the sport.
“He had a great enthusiasm for wanting to be the best,” Costello said. “He used cross country primarily to get himself in shape for basketball, because basketball was his passion. So he was willing to go through the grind of cross country, which must have been extremely hard for him because he wasn’t one of those 6-foot, 135-pound guys. He would go through all of that, and I don’t think he ever lost a race that I can remember, and he was probably three or four inches taller than anybody else that he ever ran against. He didn’t look like a cross country runner, but he made himself into the top cross country runner.”
On the track in the spring Fugate competed in more fast-twitch, events where he stood out in the 400 meter dash as well as the long jump and the high jump.
As a senior, Fugate won a white star in the 800 meter run in his first time competing in the event. He was the only athlete from the Humboldt-Del Norte League to qualify for the North Coast Section meet in four events. At the NCS meet Fugate set a new Albee Staduim record with a long jump of 21-feet-8.5 inches. That year Fugate also qualified for the North State qualifier in three events, which was the most of any HDN athlete that year.
Fugate was also a strong basketball player, earning a White Star in his senior year. He was the only player on the team to win the award that season.
“He had the sense of humor that you need on a team when other people maybe weren’t so happy about things,” Costello said. “The coach can’t do everything, so you need somebody on the team to get players through the tough times and he was that person.”
Doug Gaines — Class of 1993
(Football, wrestling, baseball)
Doug Gaines was the kind of player whom teammates love but opponents hate to play.
“Doug was a hard-nosed athlete. He just came at you. He wasn’t the biggest, but he was like a pit bull. He just gave you everything that he had,” said Nova, who coached Gaines in both football and wrestling. “He was an outstanding wrestler. He really worked hard to achieve his goals.”
Gaines played in the secondary on the gridiron and was one of the top wrestlers on the team for Del Norte, earning three wrestling White Stars and placing in the North Coast Section and California State Wrestling meets.
Dirk O’Reilley — Class of 1997
(Football, basketball, baseball)
Dirk O’Reilley wasn’t the biggest Warrior ever. In fact, he probably wasn’t the strongest or fastest either.
But when a game was in the balance, whether it be football, basketball or baseball, it was O’Reilley that the Warriors relied on to get the victory.
“He was as good a competitor as anybody and he always found a way to get the job done,” said Kirk Burrows, who coached O’Reilley in basketball at Del Norte. “He had a special something that coaches couldn’t teach to him. He just had a sixth sense — he was just a gamer.”
O’Reilley played quarterback for the football team and was the point guard for the Warriors in basketball.
“He never wanted to come out of the game,” Nova said.
Jessica Murray — Class of 2001
(Volleyball, basketball, track & field)
Kristin Murray — Class of 2003
(Volleyball, basketball, softball)
The Murray sisters were both multi-sport athletes, but volleyball was their main sport. Both girls were big parts of Del Norte’s incredible run of 21 straight Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League championships in volleyball, and both sisters went on to play volleyball in college.
Both Jessica and Kristin Murray played setter and outside for Del Norte under head coach Debbie Lorenzi, and Kristin also played some middle blocker for the Warriors. While in high school, the Murray sisters helped Del Norte win six straight HDN championships, with the two teaming up together on the 1999 and 2000 Warrior teams.
“Kristin has these nice long arms, but what made her really good was her coordination,” Lorenzi said. “She also had really good hops and read the ball really well. She really just dominated.”
Jessica had a distinctly different style of play.
“Jess was a very strong girl,” Lorenzi said. “In fact, when she was playing in college she gave somebody a concussion with one of her hits. Kristin would hit the ball straight down, and Jessica hit the ball in different directions, but with power. They really had two pretty different styles of play as far as volleyball is concerned, but they were both very effective in their own way. Both of them had very good ball control thrΩough, and played all around for me all four years.”
Jessica went on to play four years of college volleyball at Humboldt State University. Kristin, meanwhile, went to Oregon State University and played four years of Division I volleyball.
Jessica rejoined the Del Norte volleyball family for a few years after college, serving as the junior varsity coach for Lorenzi.
“I wish she could have stayed here,” Lorenzi said. “She was a just heck of a coach. She was high-energy, the kids had fun and she had fun with it.”
Joe Taylor — Class of 1960
Joe Taylor was a four-year varsity basketball and baseball player for Del Norte, but the sharpshooting Warrior was particularly impressive on the hardwood. Taylor was named to the Humboldt-Del Norte All League basketball team three straight years as a sophomore, junior and senior. He was also selected to the National Honor Society for his academic achievements while in high school.
Taylor went on to Humboldt State University, where he continued his basketball career with the Lumberjacks.