Michael Zoff

WEEK 2 STATS

Del Norte (45) vs Arcata (12)

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final

Del Norte 8 13 12 12 45

Arcata 6 0 0 6 12

Team Stats

Team Rush Pass Total

Del Norte 31-436 9-12-68 504

Arcata 35-149 16-34-247 396

Individual Stats

Passing

Player Comp. Att. Yds. TD/INT

OJ Calleja 8 10 65 1/0

Ethan Price 1 2 3 0/0

Rushing

Player Carries Yds. TD

Ethan Price 10 229 3

Sebastian Puente 10 174 2

Cole Blackburn 2 17 1

OJ Calleja 6 13 0

Kobe Mitchell 1 3 0

Justin Goudelock 1 0 0

Giovani Gonzalez 1 0 0

Receiving

Player Catches Yds. TD

Ethan Price 3 35 0

Kaleb Price 3 20 1

Giovanni Gonzalez 3 13 0

The Del Norte football team is off to a 2-0 start to the season after a pair of one-sided wins against North Coast Section Division V schools to open the season. This week the Warriors are scheduled to head over to Yreka to take on a Miner team that plays in the Northern Section’s Division III.

Although Friday’s contest, scheduled to kick of at 7:30 p.m., will be the third game of the season for Del Norte, it will actually be the season opener for Yreka.

The Miners’ season was scheduled to kick off last week, but wildfires in the area forced their game against Mt. Shasta to be called off due to air quality.

After last season’s difficulty getting in games due to wildfires, Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova knows not to take anything for granted, but he is confident that the Warriors will be playing football on Friday.

“That is on the back of our minds right now as to what is going to happen, but we are going to play,” Nova said.

Last year, the Warriors’ game against the Miners was scheduled to take place in Yreka but was moved to Del Norte late in the week due to wildfire smoke. The Miners came to Crescent City with a senior-laden squad and won a defensive struggle 12-6 over the Warriors.

A total of 16 of the 23 players on Yreka’s roster last year have since graduated, but Nova said he expects this year’s game to provide a similar challenge.

“They graduated a large number, but they are going to do the same things that they did last year. To me, it was like an Arcata front,” Nova said. “They are going to come up to the line of scrimmage, they are going to pressure us in the gaps, and then they will have those linebackers flying all over the place. For us it is another call to step up to the plate and get control of the line of scrimmage.”

Although the Warriors have been up to the task in each of their first two contests, Nova said the team is striving to get better every week. For Del Norte, that means continuing to eliminate mistakes such as penalties and missed assignments.

“We need to be better prepared,” Nova said. “It was a good game for us last week, but we need to eliminate the mistakes that we had. We got flat footed and got caught with a couple big plays, but when our backs were against the wall we responded. We need to be ready from the opening kickoff though. It is about getting better week to week.”

Nova said the team’s main strategy for combating mistakes has been to call them out in practice and give the kids a little extra running time to think it over.

“As I observe and I catch kids making mistakes it gets added on to their running, and I make a point of it,” Nova said. “They are being held accountable for their mistakes right now, so that is always in the back of their mind. It is a fine line because you don’t want them to be hesitant, but I have to make them aware that we can’t have penalties — we can’t give an advantage to our opponent.”

Defensively Del Norte has been strong through the first two weeks, giving up just 12 points total so far. Although Arcata managed to make a few big plays through the air, especially in the first half last Friday, the Warriors have made it extremely difficult to run the football in each of their first two games.

“We licked our wounds last year, and now our sophomores from last year are stepping up,” Nova said. “They are mature and they are stronger, so the defensive line can now take people on solidly and let those linebackers flow. That is what we are getting. We are playing man to man, or we are taking double teams on and now our linebackers are sticking their nose in there and plugging those things up. Then the defensive secondary is rotating over and giving us support from that side. It is making us pretty solid.”

If Yreka plays a similar style to last year, the Miners preference for running the ball will pit strength against strength when Yreka is on offense.

Del Norte also has tended to prefer running the football with its offense, and has done so with significant success early in the season. The Warriors have also proven to be efficient and effective through the air as well.

Del Norte has made use of a two-quarterback system offensively this season, but no matter if the signal caller is third-year starting senior Ethan Price or junior OJ Calleja the opponents have to be ready for a pass or a run.

“Coach (Kenny) Price is doing a great job because a defense can’t just sit there and say that Ethan Price is back there so they will just do a quarterback sneak or option,” Nova said. “He is going to throw the ball and he is going to run the ball, and OJ is the same way.”

In the first week of the season, the quarterbacks largely substituted in and out for entire series, but against Arcata the quarterbacks were substituted in and out much more fluidly.

That didn’t seem to effect either player’s rhythm, however, as Price racked up 229 yards rushing while Calleja completed 8-of-9 passes in the game.

“The great thing that coach Price has done is when he runs his script, it doesn’t matter who is there,” Nova noted. “He doesn’t alter the play designs to fit the quarterback. The quarterback is fitting into the offense. That is why you see the rhythm continuing when we switch out quarterbacks. That quarterback has to just pick up the ball and go with it.”

The Warriors have also shown that they can score on special teams. After a couple big returns through the first couple weeks, the Del Norte special teams finally got on the scoreboard with a 54-yard touchdown run by Price on a fake punt against Arcata.

Although the Warriors had a comfortable lead at the time of the fake, Nova said running the play was a calculated decision with an eye on the rest of the season.

“You don’t want to give up your secrets, but the other part that we look at — and it was coach (Mark) Slayton making the call — is that you also have to make people aware of what you can do,” he said. “Now as the season progresses teams will think, ‘They ran that, so we have to be prepared for that.’ The other part of it is that now that special teams unit is sitting there saying, ‘Hey, we did it. We can score as well.’ So they have more pride in their unit.”

Nova also noted that the Warriors will be working a lot on their kicking game throughout the week after Del Norte was just one-for-six on extra point attempts against Arcata. The Warriors converted four-of-six extra points in the season opener against Ferndale.

“We are really working on the consistency of our kicking game though,” Nova said. “That has to be more solid, so we are putting in a little bit more practice with that and we will shore up that part.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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