The St. Mary Marauders and Carlton Crusaders tied 27-27 in the last Canadian Tire Classic played in 2019.
This year, St. Mary will look to regain the title of city champions, as well as take home the Tier 2 title. The stakes will be high on Thursday, and Marauder head coach Curtis Hundeby said his team is ready to finally play their cross-town rivals.
“It’s a combination of excitement and nervousness,” Hundeby said. “I was looking forward to getting here. We’re getting to the point now in the season where you’ve prepped what you want to prep, and you’re just excited to do it. Obviously we don’t want it to be over, but the waiting is the hardest part.”
With the extra month to prepare for their meeting with the Crusaders, after being uncertain if they would get the opportunity to play their long time rivals at all this season, Hundeby said both teams have an edge heading in.
“I think from a film perspective, it goes both ways,” he explained. “Both teams are a lot more polished than we would’ve been had we faced each other in week four.”
It’s been a grind all year for this young St. Mary team, and now that they’re playing for a championship this week, Hundeby wants his players to be relaxed heading in.
“I want our guys to enjoy the process,” Hundeby said. “Don’t be too excited to get to the end result, because the lessons really come from the process. I want them to savor this time because you don’t have a lot of seasons where you know that a game is going to be your last one. We know this is it. It’s our last game of the season, and one of us gets to walk off the field as heroes, and the other is going to have a bitter taste in their mouth.”
The MO for the Marauders this season has been the run game. It’s been no secret that they have used their running backs to provide the majority of their offence all season. Hundeby doesn’t expect that plan to change on Thursday.
“We need to be able to establish our run game,” he said. “It’s been our bread and butter all season. If we can’t get that going, then we’re in trouble.
“It’s something that’s a vital part of our offence. We’re not going to run a fancy new offensive system or trick plays or anything like that. It’s going to be about man vs man, and doing your job, and doing it well for all four quarters.”
St. Mary Marauder notes
The run game has worked well for the Marauders all season long. They’ve scored 20 or more points in all but one game this year (a 6-4 loss against Walter Murray in September). They put up a combined 157 points during their last four games, winning all four in the process.
If they can continue to run the ball efficiently on Thursday, St. Mary will find themselves in a solid position to win the football game. If not, they will have to hope their defense can put together solid stops to keep them in the game.
The biggest football game of the 2021 season gets underway on Thursday night, with a 6:30pm kickoff.
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