Crusaders march on to NCS, as Loggers’ season ends in disappointment

Photos by Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — The Crusaders are headed to the North Coast Section playoffs.

On Saturday, St. Bernard’s defeated Eureka 7-6 in what was a must-win game at Crusader Field, rallying from a late deficit in a defensive showdown between these two crosstown rivals.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of my kids and coaches,” SB head coach Matt Tomlin said. “They just did an amazing job today. Our backs were to the wall and my kids rose up to the challenge today.”

The game was scoreless at halftime, and it was the Loggers who finally broke the deadlock when senior quarterback Rogan Bode scored on a QB sneak with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Crusaders, who needed the win to be playoff eligible, responded less than two minutes into the fourth, when outstanding senior quarterback Drew Sisemore scored on a two-yard run.

The game came down to the two PATs, with the Loggers hitting the goalpost on theirs and sophomore Esteban Cervantes Perez-Estrada nailing his kick for St. Bernard’s.

“They just kept battling all game and never gave up,” Tomlin said.

The loss ends the season for the Loggers, who finished up 4-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big 4.

After a huge showing in a narrow loss to Del Norte to open league play, the Loggers have been hit hard by sickness the past two weeks, with several players missing every day from practice and many still feeling the affects on Saturday.

“They gave it everything they had,” head coach Mike Marcelli said. “My guys battled and battled and battled and they were wore out before they even got there.”

Eureka is eligible for the postseason but won’t apply.

“We don’t have enough guys to be honest. Over half the team is sick,” said Marcelli, who admitted he was left devastated by how the season ended.

“I feel bad for my guys,” he said.

Saturday, however, belonged to the Crusaders, who had lost an earlier matchup at Eureka in mid-September.

Several players stepped up in the win, most notably Sisemore and running back/defensive end Wyatt Simoni.

“I can’t say enough about how much of a leader Drew has been for our team,” Tomlin said of the senior standout.

Simoni took over the game in the fourth quarter with inspirational plays on both sides of the ball.

“Wyatt Simoni ran the ball really hard and he had some outstanding plays at defensive end,” the head coach said.

Junior Lawrence Renner also had a big day for the Crusaders at middle linebacker and played his best game of the year, according to his coach.

“We’ve been looking for a linebacker to step up and make plays for us, and he did that today,” Tomlin said.

Several players also stepped up for the Loggers, including linebacker Elijah Griffin and lineman Jamin Guilbert, each of whom has been outstanding all season.

“You just can’t say enough about that kid,” Marcelli said of Griffin, who injured his ankle in the third quarter but continued to battle. “He came back in and tried to finish the game.

“And Jamin Guilbert was just absolutely a bright spot all season long. He was such a tremendous leader for us. And we had so many guys like that.”

After the game, Tomlin paid tribute to the job Marcelli and Bode have done this season.

“I want to tip my cap to coach Marcelli. Just an amazing first season at Eureka High,” Tomlin said. “He’s just a great person and a great leader, and Eureka’s very fortunate to have him as the leader of that program.

“I tip my cap to both of them. They both had great seasons.”

The Crusaders will find out their playoff seed and first-round opponent on Sunday and came into the weekend ranked No. 6 in the Division-5 field, according to MaxPreps.

Marcelli also paid tribute to his players after his debut season in charge of the varsity team.

“Honestly, I’m thankful it was this group of guys that I coached,” he said. “They all were very, very close knit. They really liked each other and they really helped each other. 

“Even today, they did not quit. They never stopped playing. They did the best they could.”

Categories: Eureka, Football, St. Bernard's

1 reply »

  1. EHS players being sick sucks…but one wonders why all the sick athletes are from one high school…

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