The Arcata Tigers will go into next week’s big showdown with plenty of confidence despite dropping their opening game on the road at South Tahoe over the weekend.

Kien Mazzotti ran for three touchdowns, including an 80-yard scoring run on the first offensive play of the game, as the Tigers challenged a tough South Tahoe team for much of the night before falling 49-28 in a shootout.

“We played some good football,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said of the opener. “We had some breakdowns, but you’ve got to take into account the quality of the opposition.”

Last season the Vikings struggled to a 1-9 record, but Jones puts that down to a rebuilding year for a top program, and says the Tigers were well aware of the quality of opposition when they scheduled the game.

“That’s the kind of opponent we want to play,” he said, describing them as the equivalent to an NCS Division-III program.

The home team, which featured different starters on both sides of the ball, wore down the Tigers late in the game.

There were, however, several positives for Arcata, with Everett Halikas also running in for a TD.

“There were some good things,” Jones said. “We moved the ball all night. They just made some timely plays and we didn’t.

“Our kids hung in there and battled all night.”

The Tigers, who have a bye this week, also had big performances from linebacker Mateo Vincent and receiver Niko Zambas, the latter of whom drew double coverage after causing the home team problems throughout.

Senior Mathew Robinson got the start at quarterback but was forced from the game after taking a knee to the helmet late in the first quarter.

Robinson was limited after that, with sophomore Shane Purcell taking most of the snaps at quarterback.

“Both our quarterbacks played really well,” the head coach said.

The Tigers will turn their attention towards a huge showdown at St. Bernard’s in 10 days, as they look to prove to the rest of the H-DNL that they belong in the Big 4.

A victory over the Crusaders would back that belief, whereas a defeat to the same team that took their place in the Big 4 would not augur well for any potential return.

Jones and his players, however, will go into the game with plenty of confidence after their opening game.

“We learned about our kids. We learned that they’re going to battle, that they’re physical,” Jones said. “We’re going to practice this week and get better. We have two weeks to prepare for St. Bernard’s”

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Ray Hamill writes at, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.