Battle of Marauders becomes a defensive struggle

After channeling the spirit of the mid-90’s Nebraska Cornhuskers rushing attack in their home opener against the Bedford Road Redhawks, the St. Mary Marauders found themselves in an old-school SEC defensive duel on Friday afternoon.

In their first road game of the 2021 Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate campaign, St. Mary lost a closely fought 6-4 matchup to the Walter Murray Marauders at the Saskatoon Minor Football Field.

“It was a really tight game from start to finish,” St. Mary head coach Curt Hundeby said. “Both offences were sputtering a fair amount and we just kept putting the ball on the ground in the first half, which it made hard to establish any momentum.

“We had a few drives where we moved the ball down the field, but we just couldn’t finish.”

While the St. Mary offence was having a tough time against Walter Murray, their defence was also making things difficult for the other Marauders offence.

“We had a couple of defensive linemen that did a good job of shutting down the interior run game and putting lots of pressure on their passing game,” Hundeby said. “Our linebackers and secondary did a good job of covering off their receivers as well.

“We held them to a couple of field goals and were a breath away from getting a touchdown, but we just didn’t have that extra oomph to punch it in.  I don’t know if we were the better team on Friday, but we certainly had a chance to win.”

While Friday’s setback dropped their record to 1-1, Hundeby is pleased with the positive trends that he’s seen from the Marauders.

“There are still some mistakes we need to clean up of course and we have a few things we can tighten up or polish up out there, but I really think we’re in good shape at the moment,” Hundeby said.

“Our special teams have been really good so far and at the end of the game on Friday, Walter Murray lined up for kick after conceding a safety and booted the ball out of bounds instead of putting it in the hands of either of our returners. It’s a good feeling to know that the speed and danger element those guys have is something that other teams respect.”

St. Mary will be on the road again on Thursday afternoon as they’ll travel to the Saskatoon Minor Football Field for a 3 p.m. encounter with the 1-1 Bethlehem Stars.

“One of the biggest things that we’re going to be focusing on this week is making sure that we are practicing at a faster speed,” Hundeby said.  “I think we were at around 80 per cent in practice this past week and that’s not good enough when you are getting ready to play top teams.

“If practice goes as well as I think it will this week, I think Bethlehem is going to see a much different team than the one that played Walter Murray, especially on offence.”

The Marauders will return to Max Clunie Field on Friday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. when they’ll take on the Carlton Crusaders in the Canadian Tire Classic.