There was no stopping the Wildcats once again on Friday, and no stopping Landon Gomes.

The Ferndale senior ran for three of his team’s five TDs in a 34-13 win over McKinleyville at the Redwood Bowl, as the Wildcats closed out the Little 4 a perfect 6-0.

But it’s not just what Gomes has done for the Cats on the field of play this year that has impressed head coach Clint McClurg, but rather how he leads his teammates off of it.

“It’s one thing when everyone’s watching the game and sees him making the big plays, but from the inside it’s the leadership when things aren’t going our way that’s huge,” McClurg said. “His ability to keep the team together and focused on the task at hand.”

With the win, their eighth in nine games, the Cats close out the regular season with a record of 8-2, and will open the NCS Division-7 playoffs at home in two weeks.

Gomes wasn’t the only standout in the win, with Lane Branstetter continuing his late-season surge with two more rushing TDs, giving him five in the last two games.

“Him and Gomes are similar in their running,” McClurg said. “They really do like to fight for every single yard. And he’s got speed too, he hits the hole, and he’s a phenomenal lead blocker.”

Another player who has seen his stock rise more and more as the season has progressed is Javier Lopez, who came up with another key interception to set up an early Ferndale score when the game was still close.

“He’s an outstanding corner,” McClurg said of Lopez. “And he’s continually improving every week.”

Caleb Martinez and Kyler Carr each scored a TD for the Panthers, who close out the season 0-6 in league and 1-9 overall.

“Ferndale’s just a good team,” McKinleyville head coach Keoki Burbank said. “I felt like we played pretty good though. It was better than the last time. We were in the game for longer.

“I’m proud of my boys today. They busted their butt.”

Outside linebacker Bronson Lewis had a big game for the Panthers, as did DB Che Jimenez, who has been consistent all season.

Several sophomores also impressed for Mack.


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