Friday night was a trial for the Bruins as they went up against the St. Mary’s Crusaders for the first time during Homecoming week. The Crusaders overwhelmed the Bruins in the first half to score a wide 49-0, but the Bruins managed to find better footing in the second half to prevent any more gains and score once themselves to end at 49-7.

“St. Mary’s is a good ball club that’s really been building for the last few years,” said Bruins head coach Shaun Bavaro. “There are a lot of good points we can really capitalize on and learn from this year. The good thing is we’re not out anything yet. We have plenty of opportunities left to make it to playoffs and fight for a position. We’ve got two more games left and this will be a test to see how they respond.”

This puts the Bruins at 5-2 overall this season and 2-1 in league play. The Bruins are now third in the Far West league and are ranked No. 8 in the OSAA 3A rankings. St. Mary’s will move up to be tied with Cascade Christian, the Bruins next opponent and reigning 3A state champions.

The Crusaders opened strong after gaining control of the ball, scoring early into the first quarter and only gaining momentum from there. After two hard stops against the Bruins offense they secured two more touchdowns to end the first quarter at 21-0.

The Bruins weren’t able to find their footing in the second half as the Crusaders scored another touchdown within the first minute. They rode that momentum for another two touchdowns before the 6-minute mark and then scored their final touchdown of the night with nearly 2-minutes to spare.

“They came out strong and weren’t able to finish the thing’s we’ve been working towards all year,” Bavaro said. They were firing all cylinders and we weren’t there yet.

The Bruins then celebrated half-time with this year’s court circling the track in a quartet of jeeps before being dropped off in front of the stands. With the court lined up, Brookings-Harbor Alumni Daryn Farmer presented the crowns to this year’s Homecoming king and queen: Brig Schofield and Lexi Pacino.

Returning from the locker room for the second half, the Bruins were full of energy and ready to go into the remainder of the game as it if were a clean slate. The Bruins managed a series of hard stops whenever the Crusaders took possession and made significant gains in the third quarter.

While unable to score in the third, the Bruins managed to put their first points on the Board in midway through the fourth quarter as Derek Bonde caught a touchdown pass and the Bruins went on to secure an extra point kick. From there, the Bruins recovered the following kickoff to start a strong drive, but as they neared the Crusaders inzone for a second point they lost possession to an interception with only seconds remaining in the half. The clock ran out as the Bruins ended at a wide 49-7.

“We proved we were relentless and that even after a half like that we can come out a finish and have a good game,” Bavaro said. “I was proud of how we responded, but we need to work on doing that from the get go and always look for opportunities to score even against such a good team. This was a measuring stick for us to see where we’re at and where we can go from here.”

Bavaro considers Friday’s game to be a good learning experience for the Bruins an a test to see how the respond to adversity of the field. He felt both offensively and defensively that the Bruins recovered and played well in the second half.

Moving forward, Bavaro is looking to prepare the Bruins for their showdown against the 3A state champions Cascade Christian, who will be their next opponent.

“They’re the state champions until someone manages to finally beat them so we’re gonna have our hands full,” Bavaro said. “We’ll be playing on turf, so that’s a little bit of extra excitement for the kids. It’s a nice facility and we’ll be ready to go.”

The Bruins play the Cascade Christian Crusaders in Medford on Friday at 7 p.m. After that they’ll play their final scheduled game of the season at home against Hidden Valley on Oct. 26.