By Ray Hamill — Exactly 12 months ago this weekend, North Coast sports fans had the chance to celebrate local high school football like never before.
We had two state championship games on the same night, one in Crescent City featuring the defensively dominating Del Norte Warriors playing in a state decider for the first time ever, and one at the Redwood Bowl featuring the ever-dangerous St. Bernard’s Crusaders.
The Crusaders, as you will all recall, closed out their memorable campaign with a 34-20 win over the South Spartans in the CIF 6-AA state championship game, giving head coach Matt Tomlin and his program a second state title in five seasons.
The Warriors were not so fortunate, falling 32-7 to El Monte in the state 5-AA game, which was played in front of a massive crowd of around 5,000 at Mike Whalen Field.
That, however, did not take from what was a memorable and history making campaign for the Warriors, and the night itself was a testament to how healthy the game is here on the North Coast.
In the past five seasons alone, all four Big 4 teams have played in the state playoffs, with two of them — Fortuna and St. Bernard’s — taking home the ultimate prize.
The memory of such a brilliant night, however, is also somewhat bittersweet on the first anniversary, with high school football and all community sports on hold here this year because of COVID-19.
That has been somewhat of a controversial shutdown, with many local fans feeling the games should have gone ahead and that they could have been played safely, like much of the rest of the country has managed.
All of that, however, can’t take from the memory of such an historic night for North Coast football fans.
One year on, we’re looking forward to a return more than ever and we will likely enjoy the game more than ever when it does finally resume.
And who knows, maybe this night next year we’ll be celebrating a state championship all over again.