Crusaders ready for inaugural campaign in NSFL

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Carlton Crusaders practiced on Tuesday afternoon at Prime Minister's Park.

After a season that saw them finish in third place during the Saskatchewan Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate (SSSAD) regular season, the Carlton Crusaders are hoping to build on their success this fall.

Carlton head coach Lindsay Strachan says the Crusaders are excited to return a strong core of players from a year ago.

“We’ve got a great group of returning guys. We think that when we’re ready to roll, we’ll be able to compete. It’s always a question mark when you’re moving into a new league situation in terms of what you’re going to see and what you’re going to face. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen North Battleford. Obviously, we see St Mary regularly. The other two teams are a bit of an unknown at this point.”

Carlton will join their crosstown rival St. Mary Marauders in the newly formed Northern Saskatchewan Football League (NSFL). The NSFL is a newly formed five team league that also features Lloydminster Comprehensive, North Battleford and Martensville.

Strachan says the new league will provide more opportunity for the Crusaders on strong years. Other teams will have similar opportunities, he says, and the teams are excited for it.

“It’s never going to be easy. The 6A category definitely has some heavy hitters int it, as does the 5A category. (It’s) an opportunity to compete on those really good years for your program.”

The Crusaders are currently preparing for a controlled scrimmage with St. Mary and Martensville on Friday afternoon. Strachan says Carlton has had the luxury of plenty of competition for starting spots early on.

“I think we’re athletic on defence right now. We’ve got lots of competition going on for different spots on the field, so that’s exciting for us. We return a pretty darn good group of skill kids on offence, and, we’re excited about some new additions we have coming in this year.”

One challenge facing Carlton this season will be the replacement of Tazmin Smith-Windsor, who graduated and is currently in training camp with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team.

Smith-Windsor played on both sides of the ball for Carlton as a running back and defensive back.

Strachan says Carlton will look to replace the production of Smith-Windsor by committee.

“The short answer is that you don’t, probably not individually anyways. It’s always a combined effort to fill those spaces. We’ve got some different guys that are going to step in and do the best they can, and we’ll be okay.”

Scott Adamko is a Grade 12 player with the Crusaders. He says he wants to finish his high school career with his team at the top.

“I just want to win, you know, get a good season in and hopefully become champions this year. I don’t care about my legacy.”

Full Crusader schedule

Sept. 1 scrimmage vs St. Mary/Martensville*

Sept 8 : @ Holy Rosary (Lloydminster)*

Sept 14: vs Martensville 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 22: Canadian Tire Classic vs St. Mary 6:30 p.m.

Sept 28: vs St. BJM (Saskatoon) 6:30 p.m.

Oct 6: vs Lloydminister Comp 6:30 p.m.

Oct 20: NSFL Semi-Final

Oct. 28 : NSFL League Final

Nov 4: Provincial Semi-Final

Nov 11: Provincial Final