Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – The Crusaders open the NCS playoffs at home on Saturday.

The Crusaders will kick off the North Coast Section playoffs on Saturday afternoon, when they host Ygnacio Valley at 1 p.m.

St. Bernard’s is seeded No. 2 in Division 6 and will be favored against the No. 7 Warriors, although head coach Matt Tomlin is expecting a battle.

“They had a great season,” the head coach said. “They’re 7-3, and offensively everything is kind of focused around an athletic quarterback.

“And they have size.”

That won’t intimidate the Crusaders, who are coming off an impressive 7-3 regular season themselves, and preparation has been going well, according to the coach.

“We’ve had an outstanding week of practice,” he said. “The kids are really dialed in and focused.”

The Crusaders received some good news on the injury front with the return of receiver/DB Peyton Smith, who missed the past few games, but unfortunately they will be without both Logan Petrusha and Braeden Zimmerman after each picked up injuries in the season finale against Fortuna.

Against Ygnacio Valley, Tomlin and the Crusaders will be looking to establish their offense early.

“We’ve got to be really balanced. We’re going to try and get (fullback) Talimaivao Fonoti involved early,” the coach said. 

Which could open things up for a very talented receiving corps and a quick-strike offense.

Defensively the Crusaders have been a handful for everyone this season, and they have matured as a team in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve gotten more physical as the season went on and we’re playing tough football,” Tomlin said. “We may be out-sized, but we stand toe to toe.”


Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.