South Fork’s varsity football team ran into another buzz saw last Friday night (Sept. 15) in Miranda, as the Cubs were shut out by visiting power Trinity High, 38-0. The Cubs fell to 0-2 in preseason, and will face another strong team on the road this week – John Swett Crockett of Vallejo on Sept. 22.
What is becoming apparent is that South Fork’s continued declining enrollment – last year it dropped from Class “A” to Class “B” – translates out to mismatches when it plays the larger schools, especially those with strong football programs like Trinity and Ft. Bragg.
It wasn’t so long ago that South Fork had well over 400 students. Now the enrollment is closer to 250, grades 9-12. While the Cubs competed admirably as an “A” school, today’s football schedule is a residual of those days…perhaps too strong for the current reality.
”We were badly out-manned last night,” head coach Karl Terrrell said after the game. “With transportation costs being what they are, and gas prices of today, scheduling has become a real problem. Most schools don’t want to travel far. And there aren’t many “B” teams in our immediate region, except in our league. We’d have to travel far to find appropriate opponents.”
The Trinity game might serve as an example. Trinity had virtually as many juniors on its roster as South Fork had players. And the 19 senior Wolves in uniform were the ones who were on the field most of the time. Add to that a junior varsity about equal in numbers.
The Cubs, by contrast, had eight juniors and sophomores on their 19-player roster, none with varsity experience, and some with almost no football experience at all. Injuries to senior lettermen Alejandro Perusina (out) and Craig Eichin (limited) magnified the disparity.
Nevertheless, the Cubs competed as best they could, while managing 150 yards of rushing offense and sustaining three drives with modest time of possession. Two interceptions and two fumbles lost hurt their cause.
Trinity starts fast
The Wolves took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. Three completed passes for first downs by senior quarterback Andrew Cunningham (8 for 16, 134 yards and a TD) spurred the drive.
Senior tailback John Maymoun (18 carries, 127 yards, 5 TDs) ran the last nine yards for the touchdown. He then added a two-point conversion run. The score was 8-0 Trinity just three minutes into the game.
(If it’s any consolation to the Cubs, the same duo ripped up Arcata the previous week, when Trinity defeated the Tigers, 30-18. Such is the strength of the Trinity football program).
The Cubs responded nicely with a 10-play drive of their own, but were thwarted on a 4th-and-2 at the Trinity 29. Senior Cub tailback Casey Bruckenstein gained the yeoman’s share of the ground yardage, once carrying the ball on five consecutive plays.
The Wolves on first down completed a 39-yard pass from Cunningham to receiver Kyle Crawford, then scored in five plays on a 4-yard pass from Cunningham to Maymoun. A passing PAT made the score 16-0 as the first quarter was ending.
However, the quarter didn’t end before the Wolves intercepted the first of two interceptions from Cub quarterback Zach Harrison. This led to another short drive, consuming four minutes of play, consummated by a 22-yard field goal by strong-legged lineman Skylar Cummins.
The field goal produced the halftime score of 19-0, Trinity. The Cubs at least showed some defensive efficiency in the second quarter, forcing a lost fumble and holding the Wolves to three points after the interception.
2nd half also 19-0
Trinity put another 19 points on the scoreboard in the second half, but South Fork had a few things to cheer about. A lost fumble and another interception deep in Cub territory gave the Wolves 12 points and a 43-yard pass set up Trinity’s other touchdown.
Otherwise, the Cubs held the Wolves to relatively short gains while improving their own time of possession.
Junior fullback Jared Morris (18 carries for 96 yards) had 50 of his ground yards in the second half, clearly South Fork’s best offensive weapon in the game.
Sophomore Khan Johnston had 19 ground yards in his first extended action, while adding a 40-yard kickoff return in the third quarter with some nifty moves.
Senior tailback Casey Bruckenstein gained 52 yards on 14 carries, while playing the usual spirited defense which belies his 140 pounds.
Next up is John Swett in Vallejo, a Friday night game (Sept. 22) at 7:30 (jayvees at 5 p.m.). If the Cubs can manage wins over LFC “B” opponents Hoopa and St. Bernard’s, and can beat a weak McKinleyville team in two weeks, the NCS “B” playoffs will remain a possibility.