By Ray Hamill — The St. Bernard’s Crusaders had a breakout game throwing the ball against Hoopa Valley last weekend, and will be hoping to carry that over into Saturday’s showdown at home to Ferndale.
The Crusaders (4-0) had little problem running the ball in their first three games — all lopsided wins — but it wasn’t until the Hoopa showdown that they matched that with their aerial attack.
“We finally got the passing game going,” head coach Matt Tomlin said. “We needed to get that going, and we did. And that’s going to make us a better team.”
Hoopa can’t contain dynamic St. Bernard’s pass attack – The Crusaders and Warriors combined for 13 TDs and 95 points in a high-scoring game on Saturday …
Quarterback Will Omey led a trio of quarterbacks — along with Logan Simoni and Bode Joyner — who threw for a combined 488 yards and eight touchdowns to five different receivers.
Omey is enjoying an outstanding season directing the offense, and now has five legitimate big-play receiving threats to throw the ball to.
Leading the way is Luke Fairfield and Lane Thrap, who each have five touchdown receptions.
Fairfield, a senior, has 330 yards for a team-high 20.8 yards a catch average, and is the team’s most effective threat after the catch, proving elusive and difficult to bring down.
“Luke Fairfield is that kind of explosive slot receiver,” Tomlin said. “He runs tremendous routes and competes for the ball. And he’s our best receiver after the catch.”
He’s a perfect complement for Thrap, a junior who now has 217 yards receiving.
“Lane’s a talented receiver who’s got tremendous hands, and he’s got a great reach. He can go up and get the ball,” Tomlin said. “And the No. 1 thing that makes him special is he’s a competitor.”
Senior Sebastian Taylor, meanwhile, leads the team with 17 catches for 216 yards and three TDs, and has been one of the team’s most consistent performers.
“Sebastian is just a well-rounded receiver,” Tomlin said. “He’s having kind of a breakout year as a senior, and he’s showed great hands. He’s kind of that consistent guy who makes plays when we need him.”
Rounding out a talented quartet of wideouts, junior Justin Hagler has 238 yards receiving and two TDs, to go with 68 yards and a TD running the ball.
He’s the most physical of the four,” Tomlin said. “He puts in a lot of work in the weight room year round. He kind of can play running back or receiver.”
A fifth big-play option for Omey is junior running back Talimaivao Fonoti, who has seven catches for 55 yards this season to go with 158 yards rushing and five total TDs.
“It’s not often you see a 6-foot-1 210-pound running back that has the hands he has,” Tomlin said. “And he gives us those tough physical runs when we need them.”
The Crusaders host Ferndale on Saturday at 1 p.m.