The St. Bernard’s Crusaders are headed back to a state bowl game after a commanding 45-29 win over East Nicolaus in the NorCal Regional football playoffs in Yuba City on Friday night.
St. Bernard’s had to overcome a first-half deficit, but quickly pulled away with 31 unanswered points to end this game as a contest long before the end.
It will be head coach Matt Tomlin and the program’s second trip to a state bowl game in just five years, but this time they’ll get to host a first-ever state championship game in Humboldt County.
And they can thank their playmakers, all of whom came to play in wet and windy conditions on Friday, none more so than senior quarterback Will Omey.
“Will Omey was spectacular throwing the football tonight in heavy rain,” Tomlin said.
He had a good night running the ball too, accounting for all six of his team’s touchdowns, three through the air and three with his feet.
He wasn’t the only hero on an historic night full of them.
“Our playmakers really stepped up tonight,” Tomlin said.
Demarte Prudhomme, who is becoming an ever-more dangerous weapon for Omey at receiver, scored on a pair of TD catches, one from 53 yards out and the other from 48.
Lane Thrap also had several key catches, including a 45-yard TD reception to give his team a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter as the Crusaders began to pull away.
Prudhomme is enjoying an outstanding playoff run, taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded him as opposing defenses focus in on Thrap, and he gives Omey another reliable option.
Bode Joyner, Peyton Smith and Talimaivao Fonoti each also had big games, as a composed Crusaders team answered the call after some early miscues, including a couple of first-half interceptions by Omey.
The home team scored three TDs in a wild opening quarter to lead 21-14, before the SB defense responded to shut out the Spartans for the next two and a half quarters.
“We actually played good defense in the first half, we just missed a couple of tackles,” Tomlin said. “Once we started tackling, our defense settled down.”
Guillermo Perez-Estrada added a field goal to round out the scoring, as the Crusaders opened up a 24-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“It’s just a tribute to these kids,” said Tomlin, who won a state title the last time the Crusaders made it this far in 2015. “It really is a special group. They love playing together, and they love their teammates.
“And now they’re going to host a state championship in Humboldt County. I’m so happy for these kids.”
Sophomore Demetrius Rawson also had a big game for the Crusaders at defensive end.
The Crusaders will host the state bowl game at the Redwood Bowl next Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.