Loggers, Crusaders get set to renew their rivalry

Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports,.com

By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers and St. Bernard’s Crusaders will face off at Albee Stadium on Friday night in the first of two meetings between the two crosstown rivals this year.

The rivalry has grown in recent seasons since St. Bernard’s switched to the Big 4, with five of the six all-time meetings between the two schools coming in the last four seasons.

After sweeping both matchups last season, the Crusaders now hold a 3-2-1 advantage in the all-time series.

Bragging rights aside, this non-league game is important for both teams as they look to build momentum ahead of league play.

“The game is always going to have that rivalry feel and intensity, but it’s not a league game,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “We have to treat it like a preseason game. It’s another opportunity for us to keep improving as a team.”

The Crusaders (1-1) are coming off a bye week after their inspirational win over Hoopa two weeks ago and they will be eager to continue to build momentum, with senior quarterback Drew Sisemore leading the way.

The Crusaders will still be without multiple starters because of injuries and transfer protocols, but they should be back at full strength by the end of the month.

The Loggers, meanwhile, also are 1-1 after losing 13-6 at Ukiah last week, one week after a bye.

And head coach Mike Marcelli will be looking for some better execution this week.

“We got beat by a couple of big plays, but other than that we were pretty evenly matched,” he said. “We just didn’t execute well. That’s the reason I don’t like bye weeks. I think the kids lost focus.

“But I will say they played like animals all the way through.”

Dylan Christian scored the team’s only TD in the loss, while the Loggers played well defensively and held the Division-III Wildcats to just 13 points.

And because of that, Tomlin is expecting a tough challenge on Friday, especially in trying to contain Eureka middle linebacker Joseph Gonzalez, who has been outstanding early in the season.

Likewise with quarterback Rogan Bode.

“I have nothing but respect for coach Marcelli and his coaching staff, they’re doing a great job this year,” Tomlin said. “And Rogan Bode is one of the elite athletes in Humboldt County. He’s a kid that we have to game plan for.

“And their middle linebacker Gonzalez is one of the best linebackers I’ve seen in a while. We have to account for him in our blocking schemes.”

Marcelli also is expecting a battle, although he’s not sure what else to expect.

“I expect a knock-down drag out game. You can’t ever count out Tomlin,” he said. “I expect a good game. I believe our defense is up to the task. Our defense is good. You just never know what Tomlin’s going to pull out of the hat.”

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m., with the JVs facing off at 5 p.m.

Th varsity game will also be broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM.

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