By Ray Hamill — For any offense in football it all begins with the offensive line, and that has been the foundation for St. Bernard’s success this season.
The high-flying Crusaders are 7-2 and marching towards the playoffs, with skill players like quarterback Will Omey and receivers Lane Thrap and Justin Hagler attracting many of the headlines.
But none of that would be possible without the success of this year’s O-line.
“It’s just tremendous how well all six of these guys have played,” head coach Matt Tomlin said. “They’ve been special, and especially because they’re an undersized group they’ve really had to play as a unit.”
That includes Harmon Daniel, Bowdy Dunn, Jacob Smallwood, Colton Smallwood, Conor Petrusha and Cole Petrusha, each of whom has seen substantial action.
They will, however, be tested against Fortuna this weekend in the regular season finale for both teams.
“In my opinion, they’re the most improved team on the North Coast (since the start of the season),” Tomlin said of the Huskies, who are 3-6. “They’ve really taken a lot of strides and are playing really good football.”
Both teams are 1-1 in the Big 4 and if Eureka can surprise Del Norte on Friday night, the Saturday afternoon clash at Crusader Field will be for a share of the Big 4 championship.
It’s also a must-win for the Huskies if they are to make the playoffs, while the 7-2 Crusaders are all but guaranteed the top seed in the Division-6 bracket regardless of the result.
Key for the Crusaders will be stopping Fortuna quarterback Daeden Taylor and receiver Branson Gans.
“They have two really dangerous players,” Tomlin said of the duo. “We have to tackle Daeden Taylor every single play.”
The game will kick off at 2 p.m., an hour later than usual this season because of SATs that morning.