Crusaders hold off Martensville for convincing win

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Rylan Morrison of the Carlton Crusaders carries the ball during NSFL action at Max Clunie Field on Thursday night.

The Carlton Crusaders scored early and didn’t look back as they started off their first season in the Northern Saskatchewan Football League (NSFL) with a 34-3 win over the Martensville Royals on Thursday night at Max Clunie Field

Crusader head coach Lindsay Strachan says he was pleased with the way Carlton played in the season opener.

“We talked a lot this week about setting a physical tone and I thought we did a good job of that tonight. Guys were moving around (and our) defense played outstanding for us. Offensively we took a couple of series to get our wheels in motion and (our) defense had our back. It all came together and the line got it moving.”

Carlton would open the scoring with a rouge at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter. The first touchdown for Carlton would come at the 12:00 mark as Sullivan Smith-Windsor would connect with Gage Prodaehl from 25 yards out.

In the second quarter, Carlton would take control. Just 3:21 into the second quarter, Smith-Windsor would find Prodaehl again, this time for a 75-yard touchdown reception.

Just over three minutes later, Smith-Windsor would find Jordan Stene for a 60-yard touchdown connection.

Martensville would score their only points of the contest with a 27-yard field goal at the 11:00 mark of the second quarter.

In the second half, Smith-Windsor would find Zane Litzenberger for a 60 yard connection.

Carlton would add four points thanks to a couple of conceded safeties.

It was a sparkling day for the Carlton offense as the Crusaders posted 450 yards of net offense, including 268 in the first half.

Sullivan Smith-Windsor led the air raid for Carlton completing 13 passes on 19 attempts for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Gage Prodaehl was the leading target for Smith-Windsor with four receptions for 116 yards and two scores.

On the ground, Rylan Morrison carried the ball 13 times for 95 yards.

Strachan says the big plays from the offense were promising to see.

“That’s a big part of what we do. We try to get vertical, and we got some athletes that went and made plays tonight and of course Sully (Smith-Windsor) puts the ball in great spots all the time for us.”

Carlton will take on the St. Mary Marauders next week in the annual Canadian Tire Classic. Strachan says it will be an exciting week ahead for the crusaders.

“It’s always a big game in town here, a rivalry game. There’s going to be lots of excitement, lots of energy around here. It’s an exciting week.”