By Ray Hamill — After suffering tough back-to-back losses to conference opponents the last two weeks, the Del Norte Warriors responded with their most impressive performance of the season at St. Bernard’s on Saturday.
The Warriors scored on their first six possessions of the game, running out to a 59-19 win over the Crusaders.
Running back Caleb Dodson scored five of his team’s nine touchdowns on the day, as a physical Del Norte line paved the way to victory with a dominating performance on both sides of the ball.
“As our last game of the season, we just went in there with the attitude that we were going to try harder on every single play,” head coach Nick White said. “We said to ourselves, let’s just go out and play as hard as we can.”
It’s been a challenging campaign for the Warriors more than most, with COVID restrictions and injuries taking their toll early, most notably when they lost senior running back and returning Big 4 offensive MVP Levi Cox Cooley to a season-ending injury in the opening quarter of the first game.
Dodson, however, has filled in admirably for the senior standout, and will benefit tremendously from the game time he saw this spring.
“He’s just very consistent,” White said of the junior. “We know what to expect from him every time he gets the ball. And he’s smart and he’s got a really great attitude. We’re happy we’re going to have him back next year.”
Dodson got plenty of help from a dominating offensive line that features left tackle Trevor Freeman, left guard Aidan Thomas, center Sam Schauerman, right guard Tanner Forkner, right tackle Jacob Dane and tight end Konner Price, a unit that thrives on being physical.
“That’s the thing that we tell them, that we’re going to be more physical than anybody else,” White said. “We pride ourselves on being physical, and being smart.”
The good news for the Warriors — and the bad news for the rest of the league — is that all of them with the exception of Forkner will be back in the fall.
In addition to Dodson’s big contribution on Saturday, Andy Hunte scored a TD on a blocked punt return, while running back Mike Germain and quarterback Cooper Maxwell each also ran in for one.
Maxwell rounded out the scoring on a TD pass to Kaleb Price.
For St. Bernard’s, junior Demetrius Rawson pulled in two TD catches, both from senior quarterback Bode Joyner, while teammate Perry Bailey capped an outstanding season by returning a fumble recovery 60 yards for a TD.
Check out one of Dodson’s TDs below …
“He’s one of our team MVPs,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said of Bailey, who plays offensive and defensive tackle. “He had a really, really amazing season.”
Bailey, Rawson and Grant Omey all had outstanding campaigns for a young St. Bernard’s team, which will return all but one starter for the fall.
“Those three guys just give us everything they’ve got every day,” Tomlin said.
The loss drops the Crusaders to 1-4 on the season and 0-3 against Little 4 opponents.
“They were just too physical for us, and you can see the result of us not having a JV team for the past three years,” Tomlin said of Del Norte. “But I thought our kids played hard. They competed to the end and that’s what’s important. I’m proud of them.”
Del Norte closes out 2-2 and will graduate six seniors, but will have nine returning starters on offense and eight on defense.
“Their experience, their leadership, their willingness to help the underclassmen was huge,” White said of the senior class, which includes Forkner, Cox-Cooley, Germain, Kaleb Price, Seth Gorbet, and Garrett Holmes.