NCS PLAYOFFS — Tempo will be key for St. Bernard’s

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Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — The Crusaders will be looking to play up-tempo in Saturday night’s North Coast Section Division-6 championship game against Kennedy and hoping to keep the Eagles on their back feet.

St. Bernard’s is the No. 2 seed in the bracket and will take on No. 1 Kennedy at Benicia High School, hoping to claim a first section title since 2015.

But it won’t be easy going up against a team that has lost just once all season and one that features numerous weapons.

“They just have some athletes that are explosive quick,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “We really have to contain their big plays.”

In particular, the Crusaders will have to account for senior running back Tray Baker, who has averaged 138.8 yards rushing in five regular season games this year, finding the end zone six times.

Defensively, the Crusaders have been outstanding much of the season, and they’ll have to be so once again against the top seeds.

They held a dangerous Middletown team to just one late TD a week ago.

Offensively, St. Bernard’s will be trying to keep the Eagles on their toes with an up-tempo game.

Tomlin will be looking for his offense to snap the ball no more than eight seconds into the play clock.

“Tempo, tempo, tempo,” is what the SB coaches have been preaching all week at practice.

Conditions are expected to play a part, with rain and wind and temperatures in the high 40s forecast for game time.

The Crusaders are 9-3 on the season, while the Eagles are 11-1.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM, as well as streamed live through the FHS Network.

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