Three former H-DNL players will make their season debuts this weekend for high profile Division-I college teams.
Most notably, former Eureka standout Jake Hanson will start at center for the Oregon Ducks, heading into his senior season anchoring arguably the top offensive line in the nation.
The Ducks’ unit is certainly the most experienced in the nation, with all five starters back, four of them fifth-year seniors.
The Ducks kick off the season with one of the most anticipated matchups of the opening weekend, playing Auburn in an all-top-25 matchup in Texas on Saturday.
The Ducks are ranked No. 11 in the AP preseason poll, while the Tigers are No. 16.
The game will be nationally televised at 4:30 p.m. on ABC, giving fans here a chance to check out a local favorite who has grown into one of the top college centers in the game.
And Hanson isn’t alone.
Two former McKinleyville players, Bryce Petersen and Kyle Spalding, will each also be making their season debuts on Saturday.
Petersen, who also plays center, is enjoying life at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he was named to Lindy’s Sports preseason All-MAC first team.
The Zips open against Illinois at 9 a.m. on Saturday, in a game that will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Petersen’s former McKinleyville teammate will also start for a high-profile program this weekend after making the switch to left tackle.
Spalding, who graduated McKinleyville in 2016, played quarterback his entire career up to college, where he was recruited to San Diego State as a tight end.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior, however, moved to the offensive line as a sophomore, starting the final three games of the 2018 campaign at right tackle and playing most of the year on special teams.
On Saturday against Weber State, Spalding will make his first start ever at left tackle, and he breaks down the move in an interview with the San Diego Union Tribune this week.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., but the game will not be televised nationally.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.