Backups shine for Crusaders in weekend playoff loss

Photos by Taunya Brunton – Seth Brunton in action at San Marin on Friday night.

With sickness depleting their squad for the North Coast Section Division-5 football semifinals over the weekend, several backups stepped up for the St. Bernard’s Crusaders, none more so than senior Seth Brunton.

After completing just a handful of passes all season while serving as the backup for senior QB Drew Sisemore, who missed the game, Brunton had a breakout performance in a 52-13 loss at San Marin, the top seed in the bracket.

The Crusaders were also playing without their top three receivers, but he still managed to complete 21 of 40 passes for 271 yards and two TDs.

And he did it in the biggest game of the season.

“I can’t say enough about what Seth Brunton did,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “That makes me emotional when a kid performs like that on the biggest stage. He gave us a chance.”

With five starters sidelined for the game because of the prevailing sickness going around right now, Tomlin was forced to start a couple of sophomores from the JV team and they didn’t disappoint either.

Tyler Maples started at receiver and Paco Davila got the start at linebacker and both played a major role going up against the defending state champions.

“I was just so proud of these other guys and just the effort they left on the field,” Tomlin said.

The loss ends the season for the Crusaders, who close out 6-6, including a critical win over Eureka in the regular-season finale just to qualify for the NCS playoffs, which was followed by an impressive road win at De Anza in their playoff opener.

A midseason trip to Oklahoma to play Guymon High School was also a highlight moment from the season and a team-bonding experience the coaches and players will always remember.

“The season had its ups and downs, but I’m really going to remember the trip to Oklahoma. It was really fun for the team,” Tomlin said. “And then the last two weeks prior to the (San Marin) loss. We had to win against our crosstown rivals to even make the playoffs, and then we put together our best performance of the season against De Anza.”

The team will say farewell to several talented seniors, but none left as lasting an impression as four-year starter Grant Omey, who started at outside linebacker in the 2019 state championship team and grew into one of the better running backs this team has fielded in recent years.

Wyatt Simoni in action at San Marin.

“We had four amazing years of Grant Omey,” Tomlin said.

Sisemore also played a key role in his two years as starting QB and developed into a key leader for the Crusaders.

Junior Wyatt Simoni also has grown into a key player on this team and one of the best running backs and defensive ends in the entire H-DNL.

“What can you say about Wyatt Simoni,” Tomlin said. “He’s coming back (next year) and he’s already one of the best players in the Big 4. He’s been outstanding at running back and defensive end.”

With so many players sidelined for the trip to San Marin, Simoni was moved to receiver and had eight catches for 135 yards.

On defense he moved to linebacker and led the team in tackles.

“He’s the type of kid that does everything we need him to do,” Tomlin said. “And he’s just an amazing young man. He left it all on the field.”

1 reply »

  1. Congratulations Crusaders, you gave it your all. Tough sledding against teams like Del Norte and Eureka in your league with such larger enrollments, you competed and did not give up!!!!

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