Football

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP — St. Bernard’s defense prepares for sizable challenge

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – The Crusaders will play South High for a state title on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — The Crusaders will have their hands full against a potent South High offense in Saturday night’s 6-AA state championship football game, but so too will the Spartans offense when matching up against a dynamic St. Bernard’s defense.

The Crusaders are known for their high-octane offense, but their defense has quietly put together a stellar season, with several playmakers and a brilliant team chemistry.

“It’s a fast defense,” is how head coach Matt Tomlin described it. “And they play really well as a team.”

They’ll need to do so against the Spartans, who come into Saturday’s big showdown at the Redwood Bowl with a record of 11-4 and plenty of momentum with five straight playoff wins.

The South offense likes to pass the ball with senior quarterback Drew Nash leading the way and a very dangerous weapon at his disposal in senior Cade Bargar, who lines up at receiver and in the backfield.

“Everything they do on offense revolves around (Bargar),” Tomlin said.

The SB defense, however, will relish the challenge and has been a very tough matchup for all of its opponents all season long.

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Freshman Grant Omey has had an immediate impact this season at linebacker for St. Bernard’s.

The unit features an undersized but effective group of players, who play well together and play smart football.

It all begins with senior linebacker Justin Hagler, who lines up in the middle alongside Jacob Smallwood and standout freshman Grant Omey in what is a five-linebacker scheme.

Alongside them at outside linebackers are Demarte Prudhomme and Demetrius Rawson, while Talimaivao Fonoti, Harmon Daniel and Eli Moon will start along the line.

Logan Petrusha will also see time on Saturday at linebacker after recently recovering from injury.

Tomlin and defensive coordinator Richard Stevenson, who has done a remarkable job with this group this season, will line up three DBs, free safety Lane Thrap and corners Will Omey and Bode Joyner.

And that’s a team that features a lot of playmakers.

Preparations for the big showdown have been going well, according to the head coach, with the SB players practicing this week at the Redwood Bowl.

Saturday’s game is set for 6 p.m.

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