The Del Norte Warriors remain on course for a third consecutive outright league championship in football after a dominating 48-12 victory at St. Bernard’s on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 2-0 in the Big 4 and clinched at least a share of the championship with one game remaining.
They can win the title outright with a victory over Fortuna in front of a home crowd in the regular-season finale at Mike Whalen Field on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Warriors had to overcome a slow start before quickly pulling away, rallying from a 12-7 deficit early in the second quarter with 41 unanswered points.
Del Norte scored four touchdowns in less than six minutes between the end of the second quarter and start of the third, including two on their first two offensive plays coming out of the break.
Special teams accounted for two of Del Norte’s seven touchdowns, as well as blocking a pair of St. Bernard’s punts, while running back RJ Loftin ran in for two touchdowns.
Aden Mintonye also scored two touchdowns, including one on a 65-yard punt return for his team’s opening score of the day late in the first quarter.
After the home team had opened up a 12-7 lead less than a minute into the second quarter, the Warriors responded on their next possession, when senior Cooper Maxwell found the end zone on a QB sneak, and thanks to the ever-reliable foot of kicker Daniel Gonzalez, the Warriors took their first lead, 14-12.
The Warriors were just getting started.
On their next possession, Maxwell threw to a wide open Mintonye, who ran into the end zone untouched for an 18-yard TD reception.
After the first of two blocked punts gave the Warriors great field position on their next possession, senior running back Giancarlo Desolenni added a short TD run, fighting his way for every inch and finding the end zone near the sideline.
Loftin added TD runs of 55 and 12 yards early in the third quarter and the Warriors would cap a dominating few minutes midway through the period when Bryson Price blocked a punt deep in St. Bernard’s territory and Kai Russell recovered the fumble to run untouched into the end zone.
“I thought we played a complete game,” head coach Nick White said. “Offense, defense and special teams all contributed huge to the victory.”
The ever-consistent Price also had an outstanding game on the defensive line as he continued his impressive season.
The win was the fifth straight for the Warriors, who improved to 7-1 on the season.
It was also their 12th straight victory in league play, a run that stretches back to October 2018.
A victory over Fortuna on Friday would not only give them a third straight league title outright but would guarantee them a home game in the opening round of the North Coast Section playoffs, which kick off next week.
The playoff brackets and seeds will be released on Sunday.
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