Following a week-and-a-half of training sessions and scrimmages, the opening games of the 2019 season are finally here for the Carlton Crusaders and the St. Mary Marauders football teams.
Both sides will kickoff their Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate schedules at Max Clunie Field this week, as the Crusaders will square off with St. Joseph Guardians at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and the Marauders will take on the Aden Bowman Bears at 6:30p.m. Friday.
“There’s been lots of good things during our camp and we’ve got some decent numbers already, which is nice to see,” Marauders head coach Curt Hundeby said. “We have some veterans in some key roles and our rookies look set to be some pretty good contributors.”
“We got lots of new faces in different positions and now it’s just a matter of getting everyone comfortable before we take to the field on Thursday night,” Crusaders head coach Lindsay Strachan added.
The Crusaders rattled off seven straight wins to conclude the 2018 campaign with a 7-2 mark and also won the SSSAD Division II title with a 9-7 triumph over the Tommy Douglas Tigers last November.
However, this year’s squad will have a much different look to it.
“We graduated around 20 players so we have a lot of youth this year and a smaller core group of guys that we are going to be leaning on with the leadership that they’ll bring,” Strachan said.
“We had our scrimmage against St. Mary here on Friday and that’s always good to give the guys some reps ahead of the opener, but you never really know what is going to happen until the season starts.”
Meanwhile, the Marauders are looking to bounce back from a 3-5 campaign that saw them end the season with a four-game losing streak and a tough 27-21 overtime loss to the Tigers in the Division II semis.
“Our team met in the spring to go over some goals not just on the field, but off the field as well,” Hundeby said. “We’ve set some goals that some might see as lofty, but we feel like we can obtain some of them if we play well enough.
“If you look at our roster, we got some experience in certain positions like our defensive line and at quarterback, but we also have some new faces at linebacker and at wide receiver. It’s a good group here and we’ll see how we stack up with the rest of the league starting Friday.”
Both teams are now classified in the 6A category in the provincial scene, but nothing changes for either side when it comes to their schedule.
“It’s just an extra A to add onto a jacket at the end of the year for the provincial winners,” Hundeby said.
“There was some confusion when it comes to the lower levels when it came to having a 2A six-man and nine-man league and a 3A nine-man and 12-man league, but they’ve changed that up for this season. The 1A and 2A divisions are for six-man, the 3A and 4A divisions are for nine-man and the 5A and 6A divisions are for 12-man teams.”