Fort Bragg’s high-flying offense and St. Helena’s relentless ground attack will square off Friday in a pivotal game that likely will determine the North Coast League I champion.
The Timberwolves and Saints share identical unblemished records: 5-0 in the NCL and 8-0 overall.
But the similarities end there.
Kaylor Sullivan, the Timberwolves’ record-breaking quarterback, leads Fort Bragg in a lightning-speed, no-huddle offense that racks up the points, averaging five passing touchdowns and more than 49 points a game.
Sullivan and his multiple receivers average nearly 400 yards a game in the air.
Fort Bragg’s defense is solid too: It has held five of its opponents to single-digit scores and the most it has allowed is 24 points, in a 54-24 win against Kelseyville.
St. Helena has been able to accomplish the same unbeaten results, but with a powerful rushing game.
The Saints, on the shoulders of leading running backs Jahaiver Otero, Alfio Basile and Niko Lopez, average 300 rushing yards per game, contrasted with Fort Bragg’s 102.
Saint Helena has thrown up impressive scoring like the Timberwolves, averaging 36 points a game. Its defense has stifled its five league opponents, holding them to just 21 total points this year.
“I’m thrilled to be in a position where two undefeated teams can meet late in the year like this,” said Fort Bragg coach Roy Perkins. “I felt like we were on a collision course all year. This is the way it should be.”
Whoever wins will be in the driver’s seat for the league title with one game remaining.
If St. Helena comes out on top, it would likely take the league title since the Saints play Willits (1-4, 4-4) next week.
If the Timberwolves win Friday, they would face Cloverdale next week with the possibility of remaining undefeated and winning the league outright.
Cloverdale trails both teams at 4-1 and 7-1, with a game against 3-2, 3-4 Middletown Friday.
If Fort Bragg wins Friday but loses to Cloverdale next week, it could set up a three-way tie with St. Helena, Fort Bragg and Cloverdale all at 6-1.
“Whoever wins (Friday) is in a position to control their own destiny,” Perkins said. “That’s always nice.”
Saints coach Brandon Farrell knows Fort Bragg will be tough.
“They have multiple facets of their team that are very good, including their defense, which goes a little unnoticed. They get the ball back to their offense and their offense takes over,” he said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
Everyone knows Fort Bragg will throw the ball. A lot. And move quickly.
Perkins’ team has run an average of 65 plays a game, about 20 more than most teams that concentrate on the run game, which eats up the clock.
Fort Bragg’s league-leading wide receiver Lucas Triplett, who has caught 15 touchdown passes this season, suspects the Saints will try to slow the game with the run.
“When we get the ball, we’ll try to go, go, go fast, like we always do,” Triplett said. “We need to make sure to keep our offense rolling. We need to (make them) get three and out, always.”
Farrell’s Saints will have to be quick on their defensive feet, knowing there could be six potential Timberwolves receivers on any given play.
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