Tough finish to regular season for Marauders

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald St. Mary Marauders running back Keegan Kelly fights for an extra yard against the Tommy Douglas Tigers Thursday night.

The month of October has been a challenging one for the St. Mary Marauders football team.

After a 3-1 start in the Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate, the Marauders dropped a 26-14 affair to the crosstown rival Carlton Crusaders prior to Thanksgiving weekend and were shutout 31-0 by the Bethlehem Stars last Friday in Saskatoon.

Although they were able to get points on the board in their home finale at Max Clunie Field Thursday, a rough second quarter was too much to overcome as the Marauders fell 39-24 to the Tommy Douglas Tigers to finish the regular season with a 3-4 mark.

“We’ve really struggled as of late,” Marauders head coach Curt Hundeby said. “It’s been tough for us to move the ball on offence and we’ve given up some big plays on defence, which is uncharacteristic for us.

“I felt like we played better on offence in the third quarter to close the gap. I’d still like to see our guys have a better performance on the ground, but we’re starting to connect on our passes again.”

After a scoreless opening frame, the Tigers took control of the contest by scoring 30 points in the second quarter, with the turning point coming on a 91-yard touchdown run from Toby Sluzalo.

“That was a heartbreaker to give up,” Hundeby said. “They tossed the ball and we had him contained, but he was able to cut back and run down the field.

“Our offence had just did a great job of moving the ball down the field and we were looking to get the ball back to them in an excellent spot, but we just didn’t come through on defence.

Sluzalo also had a 16-yard touchdown run for the Tigers, who finished up the regular season with a 2-5 record.

Quarterback Dalton Marciniuk scampered into the end zone from three yards out and also threw 30-yard and 14-yard touchdown passes to Jacob Ferguson and Colby Mose respectively.

“We lost a lot from last year’s team that made it to the 3A city final, but I’ve think we’ve shown some flashes here as we’ve moved up to 4A,” Tigers coach Leo Grosjean said.

“I really liked how our running game preformed today. It was really strong for us, and that’s something that hasn’t been the case throughout the season.”

Keegan Kelly had a pair of short yardage touchdown runs to lead the way on offence for the Marauders.

Carter MacDougall also had a rushing score, while quarterback Kyle Witkowski threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Grant Alexander.

It remains to be seen who the Marauders will officially face in the playoffs next week, though Hundeby believes that a rematch with the Tigers is on the cards in Saskatoon on Thursday.

“I did some scenarios prior to the game tonight, and  after doing the math it looks we’re going to play Tommy Douglas again,” Hundeby said.

“We’re going to look at the film from this game and learn some lessons from this. We need to do a better job of preparing ourselves and make sure that we don’t have another rough first half like we did tonight.”

The 4-2 Carlton Crusaders will wrap up their regular season slate Friday at 6:30 p.m. when they’ll welcome the 0-6 E.D. Feehan Trojans to Max Clunie Field.