Crusaders suffer key injuries ahead of Big 4 opener

Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.,com – Drew Sisemore

By Ray Hamill — The St. Bernard’s Crusaders suffered a couple of key injuries in their 28-16 loss at University Prep on Friday night, and they may have to turn to their third string quarterback for next weekend’s Big 4 opener against Del Norte.

The team’s top two quarterbacks — starter Drew Sisemore and back-up Seth Brunton — both suffered injuries within a few plays of each other early in the second half, which the Crusaders were winning at the time.

It remains to be seen if either will have recovered in time for next Saturday’s big showdown, and head coach Matt Tomlin said the coaches will re-evaluate the situation on Monday.

If neither is able to go, Braeden Zimmerman could be in line to start.

Zimmerman, who is enjoying a very good season at free safety, is the team’s third string QB and has seen limited action at the position, including throwing a touchdown pass.

The senior standout had a big game on defense and on special teams on Friday night, coming away with an interception and also returning a punt to the University two-yard line, which set up a two-yard TD run by Demarte Prudhomme.

“Braeden Zimmerman has been playing outstanding for us,” Tomlin said. “He’s really taken on a leadership role and a play-making role.”

The entire defense played well in the loss, with two of the Panthers’ four TDs coming directly off turnovers and another coming after they recovered a fumble deep in Crusaders territory.

“Our defense was amazing,” the head coach said.

The offense, on the other hand, had a tough night, with seven turnovers from the quarterback position alone.

The injuries to the two quarterbacks certainly didn’t help matters, nor did the absence of senior center/linebacker Jacob Smallwood.

Smallwood, a team captain, has been a key part of the Crusaders lineup on both sides of the ball since his freshman season and was missing because of an injury suffered at East Nicolaus last week.

He is, however, expected to be back in time for the Big 4 opener.

Demetrius Rawson scored the team’s other touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Sisemore, and the Crusaders led 16-15 at halftime after rallying from a two-TD deficit.

However, the unbeaten Panthers (5-0) would score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

St. Bernard’s is now 2-2.

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