By Ray Hamill — National signing day was a good one for the Crusaders.
On Wednesday evening, five St. Bernard’s student athletes signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level, four of them on the football field and one in basketball.
Seniors Demetrius Rawson, DeShaun Bailey, Perry Bailey and Dominic Kofi all have committed to play football at Santa Rosa JC, while Peyton Smith will take his talents to the basketball courts at College of the Redwoods.
“I’m blessed to be able to talk about these five amazing young men tonight, and what they’ve meant not just to our football program at St. Bernard’s and basketball and our school community, but what they mean to me,” multi-sport head coach Matt Tomlin told the gathering of friends, teammates and family at the signing ceremony,
All five players spoke to the gathering and thanked their family, coaches and the school for helping them achieve their goals.
“Going to St. Bernard’s changed my life forever,” said Perry Bailey, who is a cousin of DeShaun. “I’ve become a member of a loving family.”
Kofi thanked his family for “pushing me to be the best and get an education and achieve my goal to play football at the JC level,” while DeShaun Bailey added, “I’d like to thank the whole St. Bernard’s family. At St. Bernard’s I was taught how to be a leader on and off the field.”
Smith said he choose College of the Redwoods in large part because of coach Ryan Bisio, who has built a very competitive program at the local community college.
Check out our video highlights of the ceremony below …
“I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow and to be a part of coach Bisio’s team,” he said.
Bisio, who was the Athletic Director at St. Bernard’s before taking over at CR, was just as excited to recruit Smith.
“I’ve been privileged to observe Peyton athletically and academically over the years and he’s an impressive kid,” the coach said on Wednesday from CR. “A competitor, hard worker and loyal teammate, who has been coached at a high level in multiple sports at St. Bernard’s.
“We’re thrilled about Peyton’s motivation to join our program.”
Smith considered playing football in college, but said “basketball is my sport.”
For Rawson, the decision to play football at the next level was an easy one, as was the decision to play for well-respected head coach Lenny Wagner at Santa Rosa.
“Right when I stepped on campus, I felt like it was home,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms.”
Check out Peyton Smith’s big tackle at Eureka below …
“He was just a warrior,” Tomlin said of Rawson. “Just an absolute amazing competitor.”
As for what he’ll remember the most from his time playing sports at St. Bernard’s, Rawson had no doubt.
“The 2019 state championship,” he said with a smile.
Perry Bailey, meanwhile, was described by Tomlin as “easily in the top three or four football players that I have ever coached,” and was also credited with helping many of his teammates with their academics.
“The things he did on the football field were really amazing, really special, and I really see a bright future for him after he goes to junior college,” Tomlin said.
The head coach also praised the impact of DeShaun Bailey.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody who does everything so right, and it just makes me so excited to coach him,” he said. “He’s a tremendous leader … and he was just such an amazing middle linebacker. One of the leaders of our defense. No matter what we needed him to do he would do it.”
Kofi also was hugely influential on this year’s team, which swept both Eureka and Fortuna during the regular season and fell just short of knocking off eventual state champions San Marin in the playoffs.
“Dom was awesome,” said Tomlin, who described him as a leader and praised him for “helping teach the young guys and doing whatever the team needed.”
School principal Paul Shanahan also spoke to the gathering and paid tribute to the players.
“This is the first step on their next journey,” he said.