By Ray Hamill — The St. Bernard’s Crusaders are state champions for the second time in five seasons after getting the better of South High by a score of 34-20 in the 6-AA decider at the Redwood Bowl on Saturday night.
For the second straight week they had to rally from an early deficit, and for the second straight week they didn’t disappoint, making the necessary adjustments and gradually pulling away with 27 unanswered points.
The Spartans threatened to pull within one TD in the final minutes, but the SB defense held firm, and the Crusaders were able to run out the clock after that.
The state championship is the second for head coach Matt Tomlin and the St. Bernard’s program after they won it all back in 2015 as well.
It was the first-ever state bowl game played in Humboldt County, and only the third ever state championship win for the H-DNL.
Fortuna also won a state crown in 2017, giving the H-DNL three state titles in five seasons.
In other state bowl games on Saturday, the Del Norte Warriors fell 32-7 to El Monte in the 5-AA championship game in Crescent City.
The Spartans scored on each of their opening two drives at the Redwood Bowl and appeared to be in control of the game, but the St. Bernard’s players settled down after that and outscored them 34-8 the remainder of the way.
The Crusaders closed out the first half with TDs on back-to-back drives to take a 14-13 lead into the interval.
They took control of the game with a pair of recoveries on onside kicks early in the third quarter, scoring two more touchdowns before the Spartans even saw the ball.
After that Tomlin and his players essentially kept South at bay, and while the Spartans did close to within one TD early in the fourth quarter, the host team quickly pulled away again.
Senior quarterback Will Omey was sensational in his final high school game, accounting for all five of St. Bernard’s TDs, one on a long scoring pass to Demarte Prudhomme and four on the ground, including a 33-yard TD run to give his team a two-TD lead midway through the third quarter.
More on both games to follow.