And for the second straight weekend, they’ll be facing one of their toughest opponents of the season.
Having just fallen to Fortuna in the annual Milk Can showdown, the Cats now play a Crusaders team that has been dominating, and one that appears to be getting even better.
Last week, the high-scoring Crusaders rolled over Hoopa Valley 67-28 for their 27th straight victory against Little 4 opposition.
Over the past three weeks, they have outscored the other three Little 4 squads 155-49, with 35 of the points they have allowed coming against back-ups.
What’s even more impressive is that it wasn’t until last week that the Crusaders’ offense really got going, finally unleashing a dynamic pass attack that had been average beforehand.
Three different St. Bernard’s quarterbacks combined to throw for 488 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Crusaders now have 29 touchdowns on the season, and almost 200 points in four games.
Added emotional element
When it comes to rivalries, there’s an added emotional element and things don’t always go according to script.
And this matchup is one of the best rivalries in the area.
“It’s what North Coast football represents,” Ferndale head coach Clint McClurg said. “I just know our kids get up for it. It’s fun to be a part of.”
St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin echoed the sentiment.
“If we circle one game on our schedule every year, it’s going to be Ferndale,” he said. “Our kids are more excited for this game than any other game.”
The Cats are 1-2, with a big win over Willits sandwiched between losses to a pair of Big 4 opponents, Del Norte and Fortuna.
The good news for the Cats is that the schedule gets substantially easier after this weekend, when they kick off league play.
They were also the last Little 4 team to beat St. Bernard’s, back in 2013 when the two schools split the league title.
Plotting an upset
To have any shot of upsetting the odds this weekend, the Wildcats will have to find a way to contain St. Bernard’s quarterback Will Omey.
The junior has been just about unstoppable as a dual threat, passing for 745 yards and 11 TDs, as well as rushing for 529 yards and seven more touchdowns.
He now has five legitimate receiving threats at his disposal and should continue to grow as the season goes on.
“We’ve got to stop them from running, and stop them from passing,” McClurg said. “They do a lot of things well.”
The Cats have a dynamic threat themselves at quarterback in Landon Gomes.
“Landon Gomes is a tremendous athlete that I have a ton of respect for,” Tomlin said of the Cats starter. “We have to be really focused on him and containing him, and not let him get outside.
“Ferndale’s always going to compete and give their best effort against St. Bernard’s”
Game time is set for 1 p.m.