Del Norte

Warriors pull away from St. Bernard’s, go to 2-0 in the Big 4

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Del Norte’s Aden Mintonye breaks up a pass during Saturday’s game.

By Ray Hamill — It took them a little while to get going, but once they did there was no stopping the Del Norte Warriors in their Big 4 showdown at St. Bernard’s on Saturday afternoon.

The Warriors cruised to a 48-12 win after scoring four touchdowns in a 5 minute, 41 second spell — including two on their first two offensive snaps of the third quarter — to quickly stretched a nine-point lead to 36.

The win lifts the Warriors to 2-0 in the Big 4 and guarantees at least a share of the league championship.

They can clinch the pennant outright with a victory over Fortuna in Crescent City in their final regular season game on Friday night.

They won Saturday’s game with a dominating performance in all aspects of the game, including two special teams touchdowns.

“I thought we played a complete game,” head coach Nick White said. “Offense, defense and special teams all contributed huge to the victory.”

Athletic sophomore Aden Mintonye was as influential as anyone in the outcome, returning a punt 65 yards for Del Norte’s opening score late in the first quarter and adding a 19-yard TD reception from quarterback Cooper Maxwell five minutes before halftime.

The Warriors special teams blocked two punts, the first of which set up a short Giancarlo Desolenni TD run in the final seconds of the second quarter to give them a 28-12 lead at halftime.

The second came midway through the third quarter and capped a dominating spell for the visitors, who quickly put the game out of reach.

Bryson Price got his hand on the ball, which was recovered by Kai Russell, who took it a few yards to the end zone to put his team up 48-12.

And that wasn’t all the impressive Price did.

Check out some of Aden Mintonye’s big plays on Saturday …

“Bryson Price had a hell of a game on the D-line,” White said. “He was really good all game long.”

Senior running back RJ Loftin added two TDs on Del Norte’s opening two offensive plays of the second half, scoring on runs of 55 and nine yards.

Maxwell also had a short TD run three minutes into the second quarter to overturn an early 12-7 deficit.

“I thought our kids battled well,” White said. “We stayed even keel. We never get up too much, we never get down too much, they just keep grinding.”

The Crusaders were more than a match for the Warriors early in the game and appeared up for the challenge.

A big defensive stand on a fourth down set up their opening score, a 47-yard TD pass from quarterback Drew Sisemore to receiver Owen Shanahan midway through the first quarter.

The senior QB threw for a second TD in the opening minute of the second quarter, this one good for 37 yards to Aaiden Burris.

It came shortly after Mintonye’s big punt return and put the home team up 12-7.

“I’m really proud of my kids today,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “They showed up and played today.

“I thought we matched (Del Norte’s) physicality early in the game.”

Unfortunately for the Crusaders, Burris’ TD catch was their last score of the game, as the visitors began to take control.

The Warriors are now 7-1 on the season and have won 12 straight official league games dating back to Oct. 2018.

A victory over Fortuna next week would not only give them a third straight league title outright but would guarantee them a home game in the opening round of the North Coast Section playoffs, which kick off in two weeks.

The Huskies, however, are coming off a very impressive win over the Eureka Loggers and will be desperate as they need to win the game to make the playoffs themselves.

“We’ll enjoy this win tonight and then it’s right back to the grind on Monday to prepare for Fortuna,” White said. “They’e always a tough team to prepare for.

“It’s a huge game for both of us.”

For St. Bernard’s, which dropped to 1-1 in league and 4-5 on the season, the playoffs essentially get under way next week and the Crusaders must beat Eureka at home to make the NCS Division-5 bracket.

“We know it’s playoff week now,” Tomlin said. “We play Eureka, and if we win we get to play again, and if we lose it’s on to basketball season.”

After an entertaining start, Saturday’s game got sloppy quickly when an assortment of penalties were called on both teams.

“It was a great football game between two good teams and a great atmosphere, and then the flags started flying and the game never regained the rhythm it had,” Tomlin said.

Injuries didn’t help matters for the Crusaders, who lost three key starters — Shanahan, Ethan Hagler and Wyatt Simoni — and finished the game with just 15 players suited up.

“We’re hoping to get a few of those guys back (for next week),” Tomlin said. “They’re all big pieces.”

7 replies »

  1. Reading this article makes one realize that SB has no business playing in the Big 4 with these other teams that have twice as many players as does SB. St Bernards had 3 players get injured during the game and that reduced their numbers on the team to just 15.
    This is ridiculous and continue to amaze me how this is allowed to continue. Having to play against schools that have nearly or more than 10 times the SB enrollment just because they were winning consistently in the Little 4 makes no sense.
    The Little 4 needs to go back to the little schools and the Big 5 needs to go back to the big schools. It is that simple, the fact that the AD’ s in this County voted to have SB punished for being successful in their league should have not been allowed to happen.
    By the end of 3rd quarter and the whole 4th quarter of these football games the SB team is worn out having to play mostly two ways (offense and defense) while other schools have the numbers to throw fresh bodies on the field throughout the games.
    Sad for the players, coaches, and parents.

    • Rob, you clearly haven’t been paying much attention. Del Norte has been playing both ways for many years. Sure they have a few more kids on their roster (certainly not twice as many, as you falesly claim), but almost every starter on offense plays every snap on defense. Private schools almost always play up divisions due to them recruiting players and stacking rosters. It all comes down to the HDN ADs making the most competitive divisions and St. Bs is very much competitive where they are presently at and they’ve been so for several years since the switch was made. The only punishment St Bs recieved was Del Norte being the more physical team and that starts with players buying in to the weight program and the coaches’ philosophy. Quit making excuses. The level of competition they are getting by moving up does nothing but prepare them for the better teams in their division, down south. Del Norte always plays Ironman football with the best players they can put on the field and 9 or 10 of those players are going every play, the entire game. In 2018 when DN won the NCS, they had only 18 or 19 kids suited up because of injuries, so nobody wants to hear your excuses.

    • It’s all based on the section and state classification of divisions. DN is in division 4, Eureka and SB are in division 5, Fortuna and Arcata are in division 6, and Mack, Hoopa and Ferndale are division 7.
      The “Ad’s in this county” didn’t punish SB for consistently winning, the section and state demanded it.
      Just a week ago SB beat Fortuna, while Eureka only lost to DN 14-21. This week Fortuna handles Eureka pretty easily, while DN beat SB. Sounds like athletics to me. Sometimes teams play well and other weeks they don’t.
      One last thing, with South Fork playing 8 man football there can’t be a Big 5 and Little 4. The section does not allow 3 team leagues. It sounds like SF is going back to 11 man football next year and because of that there might be changes coming.

      • Ray. Honest question. Was it sad for the players, coaches and parents when SB traveled to Oklahoma and beat a high school with 800 students?

    • Eureka has around 25 on the roster. Around 7-8 guys start both ways. DN’s roster is in the mid 20s with many playing both ways. Fortuna’s roster is also in the mid 20s.

      Nobody has huge rosters that 2 platoon anymore. The difference is other schools are used to playing a physical style of ball while SB tries to rely on field spacing and athleticism. Just different philosophies on how to play the game.

      If you want SB to be in the little 4 then stop getting transfers from other schools. That’s the only way SB is competitive. No matter how good of a coach Tomlin is, he still needs guys to throw and catch the ball. It’s okay DN is a better team. It’s high school football not the NFL. Everyone wins and everyone loses. It happens.

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