By Ray Hamill — Like most teams around the H-DNL, the Crusaders returned to the football field this week, with one noticeable difference.
This fall, St. Bernard’s will field a JV team for the first time in four years.
Head coach Matt Tomlin has around 32 players out this season, enough to field both a varsity and JV roster.
And that’s something that will help with the development of the younger players,
“It gives these young kids a chance to play against players that are the same size and speed and learn the fundamentals of the game,” Tomlin said. “And hopefully that will help the future of St. Bernard’s football.”
The Crusaders began preseason practice on Monday, with 15 players on the JV roster and 16 or 17 expected to play varsity.
And while the varsity roster will be a little low on numbers, the coaches expect this year’s team to be competitive.
“We’re not deep,” Tomlin said. “We’ve got 16 or 17 (varsity) players, but there’s not a weak link.”
The Crusaders won just one of five games this past spring, but featured a very young roster with just one starting senior.
And that experience will benefit the many returning players.
“We think that the players we have on varsity are all starting caliber players,” Tomlin said. “As long as we stay healthy we’re going to be a pretty good football team.”
The Crusaders open the season at St. Vincent de Paul under the lights in Petaluma on Saturday August 28.
They will scrimmage both Ukiah and Willits next weekend.