The wait is almost over for the biggest high school football game in Prince Albert.
On Thursday night, the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders will play their final games of the season, with the Tier 2 Championship and Canadian Tire Classic on the line.
Crusaders head coach Lindsay Strachan says the anticipation is building, and the team can’t wait to get going.
“It’s an opportunity to compete for the Tier 2 title at home,” Strachan said. “I’m excited for the chance our kids get this week, and we’re getting ready to roll here.”
Strachan said his message to the team this week focused on mental preparation. The club missed two games this year due to COVID-19, but bounced back with a 28-12 win over Bethlehem in their final game of the season.
“The main message has just been belief,” Strachan said. “Things happen for a reason and here we are. We know what’s in front of us, and we’re getting prepared to show up and play our best football game.”
These two teams were supposed to play in early October. With the date being pushed back to early November, Strachan said having the extra month to review film may pay dividends for both teams.
“I think over the course of a football season teams grow from week to week,” he explained. “There have been some changes, and I’m sure St. Mary has seen some changes in our film from when they originally prepared for us as well. At the end of the day, they’re benefiting from that time as well as we are.”
While having the extra time to prepare for this game, there have obviously been pressure filled games that Carlton has had to win in order to reach this stage. Now, with the big stage looming, Strachan says the key to victory will be to come out strong, and keep playing aggressive.
“We’re going to have to play our most physical game of football yet this year,” he said. “That’ll give us the opportunity to compete and do what we do. We have to be there in terms of our physicality.”
Carlton Crusader notes
The Crusaders have not only been a physical team all season, but they’ve been a smart team defensively. They are known to play tough late into games, and opponents have found points are hard to come by in the second half of the game. If Carlton can find their defensive step early in Thursday’s game, they will find themselves in a nice position to pick up the W.
Twenty-eight has been Carlton’s favourite number the last couple of weeks. They put up 28 points in each of their last two victories, and may have to put up 28 or better again, as they square off with a Marauder team that has put up 35 or more points in each of their last four games.
It is the biggest sporting event in Prince Albert since 2019. One of the biggest high school rivalries in the province will kickoff on Thursday in both teams’ final games of the season. It’s the Canadian Tire Classic. It’s the tier 2 championship. Kickoff on Thursday is at 6:30pm.