Crusaders capture Division II title

Daily Herald File Photo Carlton Crusaders wide receiver Kael Leachman, seen here during a game earlier this season, had the lone touchdown Friday in a 9-7 win over the Tommy Douglas Tigers in the SSSAD Division II final.

An impressive run for the Carlton Crusaders football program ended on a winning note Friday night in Saskatoon.

With a 9-7 win over the Tommy Douglas Tigers, the Crusaders picked up their seventh consecutive victory and also brought home the 2018 Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate Division II title.

“It’s been a really fun run to be a part of here,” Crusaders head coach Lindsay Strachan said. “This is a great accomplishment for our entire team and what we’ve been able to do lately says a lot for how our program is doing.

“We’ve won three straight Division III titles but this was our first time competing in Division II since they adopted the new format for our league, so it was nice to come away with the championship in our first attempt.”

Having previously topped the Tigers in a 9-8 thriller on Sept. 27, the Crusaders once again went down to the wire with a program that had moved up the 4A level this year after losing the SSSAD 3A final to the North Battleford Vikings last season.

“We got up 9-0 in the second quarter after a touchdown catch from Kael Leachman, but it was a back and forth game the whole time,” Strachan said.

“They cut our lead down to two points near the end of the third quarter, but our defence made a couple of big stops and we had some great plays on special teams to stay out in front.”

Although the Crusaders will be graduating a number of key players from their lineup, Strachan is excited about the Grade 10 and 11 students that will be returning to the team for the 2019 campaign.

“We’ve been in a number of tight games all season and I think the confidence and composure our team showed will be huge for those players as we go forward,” Strachan said.

“They have an understanding of the level of execution that it takes to be successful and that’s really important for our program as we look to accomplish big things down the road.”

The SSSAD 4A title was won by the Centennial Chargers for the second straight year as they topped the Holy Cross Crusaders in a 16-14 overtime thriller Friday night.

The Chargers will now host the 4A provincial final next Saturday against the Miller Marauders, who won their first Regina 4A title since 1981 with a 23-3 triumph over the LeBoldus Golden Suns.

Meanwhile, the SSSAD 3A champion Bishop James Mahoney Saints advanced to the provincial final after a 22-15 triumph over the host Yorkton Raiders in Saturday’s semifinal.

The Saints will travel to Regina next weekend to take on the Sheldon-Williams Spartans, who won the city crown in a 24-3 contest with the Balgonie Greenall Griffins.