The location is the same, the opponent is the same. And for the St. Mary's High football team, the goal is the same.

Come back with a North Coast Section Division IV championship.

A week after its trip to Arcata was halted because of poor road conditions, the Panthers were back on the road Friday, eager to play for their program's first section crown. Fifth-seeded St. Mary's plays No. 2 Fortuna (10-2) at Humboldt State at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week's game was postponed after the Panthers were unable to finish the 275-mile drive north because a storm blanketed Highway 101 with snow in the Willits area.

St. Mary's coach Keith Minor said his team was disappointed it couldn't play last week, but he tried to stay positive.

"You know what? All good things come to those who wait," he said.

It is also business as usual for the Huskies.

"This is for a section championship, and we're pretty dialed in," Fortuna coach Mike Benbow said.

On its way to its first appearance in the finals since 1999, St. Mary's (9-4) defeated Fort Bragg 48-13 in the first round, St. Helena 24-7 in the second round and No. 1 San Marin 35-29 in the semifinals.

In 1999, St. Mary's lost to Foothill in the 2A East Bay championship. But it has been almost as long a drought for Fortuna, which has not played in a section championship game since 2000, when it won the NCS 2A Redwood Empire title.

Minor, who has only seven seniors on his roster, said last week that a turning point this season was a 43-7 loss to El Cerrito on Nov. 2. The next week, St. Mary's routed Pinole Valley 55-14, starting a four-game winning streak in which the Panthers averaged 40.5 points a game. Receiver Liam Godfrey, running back Lorenzo Logwood and quarterback Ian Bonde lead the St. Mary's offense.

"Once we beat Pinole Valley, there was no turning back," said Minor, whose squad's losses have all come against teams that reached NCS championship games this year -- Miramonte in Division II, El Cerrito in Division III and Salesian and Valley Christian in Division V.

Staff writer Phil Jensen and the Eureka Times-Standard contributed to this story.