By Ray Hamill — Judging by what we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, it’s probably a good thing St. Bernard’s is no longer competing in the Little 4.
On Friday night, the Crusaders comfortably took care of Arcata at the Redwood Bowl by a score of 47-14, their third straight rout to start the season.
It was also their second straight rout of Little 4 opposition, which they have outscored 88-21 in those two games.
The Crusaders scored touchdowns on seven of their 11 possessions, once again putting the game out of reach well before the final buzzer sounded.
In fairness to the Tigers, they have suffered more than a season worth of injuries already this year, with their starting quarterback and four top skill players all out indefinitely.
A young Tigers team is now younger still because of those injuries, and head coach Jamal Jones was more than happy with his players’ efforts.
“Not disappointed at all,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out there getting some quality reps … if I had a full group of starters and we put out that performance, I’d be 100 percent more disappointed. But we’ve got some young guys out there getting quality reps against a great St. Bernard’s team.”
Early-season domination continues
The Crusaders have dominated all three of their early-season opponents, although head coach Matt Tomlin was less pleased with this performance.
“I wasn’t as happy with this one,” he said. “We had too many dumb penalties, blocks in the back, and on offense we didn’t have the tempo we needed. I had to get on a lot of guys.”
The defense did come up with some big plays, including four second-quarter interceptions as the Crusaders pulled away.
Up to that point, the Tigers were hanging tough and causing St. Bernard’s problems on both sides of the ball.
Four different players — Luke Fairfield, Will Omey, Lane Thrap and Cole Petrusha — each came away with a pick for St. Bernard’s, while Justin Hagler added a second-half fumble recovery to complete a five-takeaway day.
“I was happy with the defense,” Tomlin said.
Omey continued his remarkable start to the season at quarterback, rushing for touchdowns on the Crusaders’ opening three possessions of the game, from 19, 20 and three yards out.
The junior standout now has seven rushing TDs in three games.
He also threw a pair of touchdowns to Fairfield and Thrap, including a 50-yarder to the former.
Fairfield would find the end zone a second time late in the third quarter on a pass form Logan Simoni, displaying fantastic footwork and gliding past two defenders on his way to scoring.
Both Fairfield and Thrap have developed a dynamic one-two punch in the passing game, and both are proving to be tough to bring to the ground.
Talimaivao Fonti added a seven-yard TD run early in the third quarter.
Injuries mounting for the Tigers
For Arcata, the list of injuries continues to grow.
The Tigers lost quarterback Francis Ford in the opening game of the season and saw Tri Jensen go down a week ago.
On Friday, three running backs all suffered injuries, with Lisandro Carrillo, Kien Mazzotti and Everett Halikas all forced to the sideline.
The Tigers’ running game was effective early on, before the long list of injuries.
Quarterback Matt Robinson threw a pair of touchdowns, including a seven-yarder to Halikas late in the first quarter to make it a 12-6 game.
The score capped a 45-yard, 10-play drive.
Robinson also connected on a nine-yard scoring toss with freshman Carson Tucker, who was called into action because of the injuries.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to coach Jones and his players,” Tomlin said. “They’re shorthanded, but the way they play you wouldn’t know it.”