Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – The Fortuna Huskies will open the NCS playoffs at Encinal on Friday night.

Once again the Huskies will have to do it the hard way, and once again they won’t be intimidated by that challenge.

Fortuna opens the North Coast Section Division-5 football playoffs on Friday night at No. 1 seed Encinal, and as the No. 8 seeds in an eight-team bracket they’ll be on the road for as long as they play in the section.

But that’s nothing new for the Huskies.

Last season, they won three straight road games against the top three seeds in the bracket on the way to a second straight NCS championship.

And that will give the Huskies plenty of confidence no matter where they play.

“You know what, we were happy to make the playoffs, and we’re excited for the trip,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “And we’re excited to have a big challenge in front of us.”

The Huskies are 4-6 and didn’t even become playoff eligible until a 34-26 win at St. Bernard’s on the final day of the regular season.

Encinal, meanwhile, is 9-1 and hasn’t lost since early September, giving the consistently impressive Jets plenty of momentum heading into the playoffs.

But this is the third straight year the Huskies will have to travel to play at the No. 1 seed in their bracket and they have won the previous two, overcoming St. Bernard’s two years ago and Moreau Catholic in last year’s championship game.

And that sort of road success, coupled with their late-season surge, has instilled a belief in this year’s Huskies.

“They believe they can make noise in the playoffs,” Benbow said of his players. “And I think that belief has carried over to our practice this week.”


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