By Ray Hamill — The Eureka seniors stepped up big-time on Senior Night.
Playing what was likely to be their final game at historic Albee Stadium before it undergoes construction, the Loggers ran out to a comfortable 31-13 win over St. Bernard’s, with the seniors leading the way.
Quarterback Rogan Bode ran in for a pair of touchdowns in the opening half and running back Daniel Garcia-Hall ran in for two in the second half as the home team took control of the game after an impressive start by the visitors.
“The way my kids responded to everything we asked them to do was phenomenal,” Eureka head coach Mike Marcelli said. “Tonight we didn’t make anywhere near as many mistakes.”
It was something the coaches had stressed after a disappointing loss at Ukiah last week.
The Crusaders opened the scoring on their first drive of the night, marching 70 yards on 13 plays and finding the end zone on a four-yard TD run by Wyatt Simoni.
The Loggers, however, responded immediately and drove 65 yards on 10 plays on the ensuing drive, tying the game just seconds into the second quarter on an 11-yard Bode run.
The Loggers took the lead later in the second quarter on a brilliant 13-yard TD run Bode that saw him break several tackles on his way to the end zone.
“We really got Bode going tonight,” Marcelli said. “He’s just a warrior, and our offensive line again just did a tremendous job.”
So too did the Eureka defense, which held the visitors to just one scoring drive after their opening possession.
“Again our linebackers played well and our defensive line played well,” Marcelli said. “I got to give a shoutout to (defensive coordinator) Jeff Faulk. Every week he has a great game plan and it’s been a blessing to have him this year. All of my coaches really have done a great job.”
After the interval, the Loggers began to pull away, with Garcia-Hall scoring two third-quarter TDs, on runs of four and 94 yards.
“He finds a hole,” Marcelli said of the senior running back, who broke free for his big TD after cutting back on a play that was intended to go the other side. “That was all Daniel Garcia-Hall.”
The Crusaders narrowed the gap early in the fourth on a 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Drew Sisemore to receiver Owen Shanahan, but the home team had the final say with a 27-yard field goal by Dominic Conant.
The Eureka coach also had words of praise for Conant, who was outstanding marking the taller Shanahan all night.
“He played a heck of a game at corner,” Marcelli said. “I’m so proud of the way he stepped up this week.”
For the Crusaders, there were plenty of bright spots, but they were unable to maintain the early momentum.
“I thought we did a lot of good things, but I thought there were three penalty flags that really changed the momentum,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said.
The Crusaders welcomed back senior co-captain Grant Omey, who had missed the first few weeks through injury and he had an immediate impact.
“I thought he was electric, whether it was at receiver, running back or linebacker,” Tomlin said.
Sisemore also impressed his coach.
“I thought Drew threw the ball really well tonight,” Tomlin said. “He put it right on the receivers.”
Defensive ends Simoni and Ulysses Bailey Jr., also had big nights.
Overall, however, the night belonged to the Loggers.
“Coach Marcelli has done a great job with that team,” Tomlin said. “They executed well, they gave us looks we weren’t expecting and they ran the ball hard.”
With the win, the Loggers improved to 2-1, while the Crusaders dropped to 1-2.
The two teams will meet again in league play in early November at St. Bernard’s.
The Eureka JVs also won, defeating St. Bernard’s 41-14 for their first win of the season.
The Loggers are now 1-1-1, while SB dropped to 0-2.