St. Bernard’s quarterback Will Omey will lead his team against visiting Stellar Prep Friday afternoon in what will be the Crusaders’ homecoming game. (Jose Quezada — For the Times-Standard)
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The Little 4 hits the midpoint of conference play while the powerhouses of the Big 4 get set for the final week of non-conference action as week 8 of Humboldt-Del Norte League football season begins Friday.

Hoopa Valley (2-3, 1-1) at Arcata (3-3, 1-1)

A contest with heavy Little 4 implications will take place at the Redwood Bowl Friday night as Hoopa Valley and Arcata each look to keep pace with conference leader Ferndale.

Arcata comes into Friday’s game off an explosive 44-13 win over McKinleyville a week ago. Arcata’s running back Kein Mazzotti delivered an all-time performance in the win, rushing for a career-high six touchdowns.

Arcata will however likely be without it’s top receiving threat Niko Zambas who left in the third quarter of the win against McKinleyville with an apparent leg injury.

Hoopa Valley fell 59-30 at the hands of Ferndale last week. Defensively the Warriors allowed the most points they have in four quarters this season. Offensively, however, the Warriors put up the most points they have in a game (30) in 2019.

McKinleyville (1-5, 0-2) at Ferndale (4-2, 2-0)

McKinleyville’s search for its first Little 4 win since the conference began play under its current format in 2018 won’t get any easier as the Panthers head to Ferndale Saturday afternoon.

Ferndale, alone atop the Little 4 standings with its 2-0 conference record, will enter Saturday’s game fresh off a 59-point performance — the most points scored by Ferndale since hanging 62 in a win over Willits early in 2016 —  in a win over Hoopa Valley last week.

Ferndale is averaging 33 points-per-game on the year and through two conference games, 52 against Little 4 competition.

Ferndale coach Clint McClurg credited his offensive line — one which has been without perhaps its best piece, Orion Benton, since the Milk Can Game win a month ago — with his club’s offensive productivity.

“I cannot stress enough the work this offensive line has done,” McClurg said.

The coach praised Haven Harrington, who has filled in admirably for Benton, as well as Dominic Regli and the rest of his starters for paving the way for a six-rushing touchdown night a week ago. Landon Gomes and Nico Alejandre each had two of them while Colson Renner and Dj Albee each had one.

McClurg also put a spotlight on tight-end Tristen Martin, who hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from Jenner Christiansen in edition to excelling in his run-blocking duties last week.

A win Saturday would put the Wildcats a game up in the Little 4 with three to play — including two at home.

Eureka (3-3) at Chico (5-1)

If Eureka wants to know exactly what it’s made out of heading into the start of Big 4 Conference play, it’ll find out Saturday when it heads out East to face one of the Northern Section’s elite, Chico.

Chico is currently the No. 2 ranked team in the Northern Section and the No. 1 ranked Division-II team in the section (MaxPreps). Chico is winners of its last two games including a 55-28 win over Enterprise—Redding a week ago.

Eureka, not lacking in momentum itself following three consecutive wins — two of them coming on the road — will pit a defense which has allowed just five touchdowns since the start of September against a Chico offense averaging just over 30 points-per-game.

Eureka’s middle-linebacker Chase Steubing has record 24 total tackles over the last two games and is currently second in the section with his 73 total tackles in 2019.

Eureka and Chico have one common opponent between them this season. Both played and best Shasta, Eureka doing so by a 35-21 margin and Chico, by a 44-7 count.

Stellar Prep (1-6) at St. Bernard’s (5-1)

St. Bernard’s will look to pick up a win before heading into Big 4 play next week when it host Stellar Prep this afternoon for what will be the Crusaders’ homecoming game.

St. Bernard’s will host a Stellar Prep team coming off of a 38-0 loss on the road at Fortuna a week ago — Stellar Prep’s third shutout loss in its previous four games.

St. Bernard’s was dealt its first loss of the season a week ago, 49-21 on the road at Templeton. It was a game which going in Crusaders coach Matt Tomlin acknowledged as an ultimate test for his club heading into conference play.

Friday’s game, however, is anything but.

St. Bernard’s averages just under 40 points-per-game on offense. Stellar Prep has scored more than 21 points once this season — and will be facing St. Bernard’s fresh off its second trip from Hayward to Humboldt in a week’s time.

Foothill (3-2) at Fortuna (2-4)

Fortuna will face another tough test Friday night when it hosts Foothill—Palo Cedro.

Foothill has made the trip to Humboldt once already this season. On Sept. 6 it handed Eureka a 14-10 home-loss and comes into Friday’s game fresh off a 27-20 win at home over Red Bluff.

Fortuna recorded a dominant 38-0 win over visiting Stellar Prep last week, a win which snapped a 2-game losing skid for the Huskies. Levi Nyberg rushed for two touchdowns in the win while Fortuna’s defense limited Stellar Prep to -7 total yards of offense.

On byes

Del Norte (6-1) and South Fork (4-2, 3-0) will regroup this weekend as both are on byes. Del Norte picks back up in a week with its conference opener, a home game against St. Bernard’s. South Fork will look to get closer to its third-straight North Central III title when it takes on Laytonville.

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