Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com.

The Fortuna Huskies will face off against a top seed in the NCS football playoffs for the third straight year on Friday night, when they travel to play Encinal in Alameda.

That hasn’t been a problem for them in each of the past two seasons, but to knock off a No. 1 seed on the road for the third straight year they’ll need to continue to show the late season form that saw them beat Eureka and St. Bernard’s on their way to earning the eighth seed in an eight-team Division-5 bracket.

“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said of the high-flying Jets, who are 9-1. “They have a very good defense, they’ve got a bunch of good athletes and they’re very well coached. 

“They’re a No. 1, and it’s going to be a big challenge, and we’re excited for that challenge.”

The Huskies, who will carry an H-DNL record 10-game playoff winning streak into the matchup, have been steadily building momentum all season, winning three of their final five games and closing out the regular season 4-6.

“Our offense has found an identity, and defensively speaking we’ve gotten a lot better,” Benbow said. “I think that as a group they’ve kind of figured themselves out and I really believe they’ve bought in. They like each other and they work well together.”

The key for the Huskies will be ball control on offense, something that has worked extremely well for them in the Big 4.

Benbow has used a stable of running backs to wear down his opponents and keep them off the field, particularly against Eureka and St. Bernard’s, including running out the final seven and a half minutes of the game against the latter.

“We need to get first downs and keep their offense off the field,” the head coach said.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on MIX 95.1 FM.


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