A tough night of football; Panthers claw Tigers

John Ross Ferrara
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – McKinleyville High School is one win away from reaching the postseason after they trumped the Arcata High School Tigers 51-6 Friday night.

Football.IMG_0146Panthers Head Coach Sean Curry said his team has played at an inconsistent level and will need to practice hard over the bye week if it wants to beat Fortuna High School.

“They’ve been a mystery,” Curry said. “They don’t prepare well during the week and they’re capable of doing a lot better.”

McKinleyville also needed a win against Arcata to keep its playoff hopes alive, and made an early statement by scoring 19 unanswered points in the first quarter.

Running back Bailey Turner scored the first touchdown of the game on a 20-yard run.

Although Arcata was two games away from another winless season, the Tigers still fought hard and almost tied up the game in the first quarter with a near pick six interception by Josh Spaulding. Spalding had one man to beat to the end zone, but 6-foot, 6-inch quarterback Kyle Spalding overpowered the defender and saved the scoring drive.

The Panthers continued the punishment in the second quarter, when senior wide receiver Ringo Burgess stiff-armed a defender to reach the end zone. Receiver Noah Richards followed up with a touchdown of his own and McKinleyville went up 38-0 at halftime.

Burgess said he was happy to score a touchdown on Senior Night, the final home game of his high school football career.

“It was my first time playing high school football,” Burgess said. “I’m glad I came out this year and had a good time with my friends.”

In the second half, Tigers star back Connor Cox took over at quarterback as Arcata switched to the wildcat formation.

The Tigers remained scoreless until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Cox scrambled for the team’s only touchdown. It was the final score of the night and the Panthers closed out the Senior Night victory.

Despite the blowout victory, Curry said the determination of Arcata’s understaffed team was inspiring to witness as a coach.

“They love the coaches, they work hard, they just don’t have the depth,” Curry said. “It reminds me of when I played here at McKinleyville and we lost nearly every game my junior and senior year, you never came off the field.”

If Arcata is unable to pull off an upset against Del Norte, who defeated them 72-0 in their last matchup, the Tigers will finish without a win for the second consecutive season.

McKinleyville will look for vengeance against Fortuna on November 7 for their 39-38 homecoming night defeat.

“We lost by one point last time,” Burgess said. “They know we’re coming for blood.”

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