The Wildcats showed what they’re capable of with a big second quarter against Clear Lake in Ferndale on Saturday afternoon, but inconsistency continued to be a concern after they were held scoreless for the second half on the way to losing 28-17.
“I thought we played good, but not great,” Ferndale head coach Clint McClurg said. “And to be great, you have to be good consistently.”
The Cats broke open a lifeless game early in the second quarter with quarterback Jenner Christiansen leading the way, but after opening up a two-touchdown lead before the break, they were outscored 22-0 in the second half.
Numerous penalties, many of them a product of indiscipline, didn’t help matters for the home team.
“We have a lot of work to do,” the head coach said. “And we have to clean up things like self discipline.
“We have a very tough schedule, starting with Clear Lake, and if we want to beat these teams we have to learn to be consistently good.”
The season-opening performance had its moments, particularly in the second quarter.
After Christiansen broke free down the sideline for a 40-yard gain in the final seconds of the first quarter, the junior found the end zone on a one-yard QB sneak on the first play of the second quarter to break open what had been a punt fest up to that point.
Ferndale senior Landon Gomes, who also had a big game, intercepted the ball on Clear Lake’s ensuing possession, setting up a seven-play, 56-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard TD pass from Christiansen to Javier Lopez.
Junior Lane Branstetter, who had an industrious day at running back, had two big receptions to help set up the scoring play.
Lopez, who also impressed at cornerback, added a 10-yard first down reception on the drive, as Christiansen and the offense began to find its groove.
After the Cardinals responded with their first touchdown of the day late in the quarter, the Wildcats again quickly marched downfield, capping a seven-play, 60-yard drive with a 28-yard Colson Renner field goal for a 17-6 advantage going into the interval.
The second half, however, belonged to the Cardinals, whose passing attack began to set the tone.
Senior lineman Dominic Regli had a big game for the Cats, and “showed some very positive things,” according to the coach, while junior Taner Zanone had some big plays at outside linebacker.
“He stepped up,” McClurg said of Zanone.
Gomes also impressed, coming away with an early fumble recovery forced by Regli, to go with his interception, as well as making several big tackles.
He also had a big 40-yard reception from Christiansen to set up Renner’s field goal.
The Wildcats will have a bye next weekend before traveling a few miles to play rivals Fortuna in the annual Milk Can game.
And McClurg is hoping to take full advantage of the extra practice time.
“We need more time to come together as a unit and as a team if we want to accomplish our goals,” he said. “I know this team. They’ll come out fighting.”
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.