Mixed results for Crusaders and Marauders football teams

Photo courtesy of Averil Hall Caleb Guenther makes his way up the field for Carlton Crusaders last Thursday as they took on the North Battleford Vikings at Beaver Lions Stadium in North Battleford.

After the opening two weekends of the high school football season, the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders find themselves at opposite ends of the standings.

Following a heartbreaking loss at home a week earlier to the Bethlehem Stars, the Crusaders fell to 0-2 last Thursday night on the road as they dropped a 24-19 decision to the defending 3A provincial champion North Battleford Vikings.

“It kind of played out in a similar fashion to our game with Bethlehem,” Crusaders head coach Lindsay Strachan said. “We had a slow start and found ourselves down at halftime, but we played much better in the last two quarters before we ran out of time.

“We upped the level of physicality in the second half, which is something we didn’t have in the first half. You need to play that style of football if you want to compete with a team like North Battleford.”

Meanwhile, the St. Mary Marauders picked up their second straight road win of the season Friday as they improved to 2-0 with a 56-0 triumph over the E.D. Feehan Trojans in Saskatoon.

“It was really a continuation of what we had done a week earlier when we beat Walter Murray,” Marauders head coach Curt Hundeby said.

“The biggest thing for us was the ball control that we had with our long drives. We try to utilize all three downs to grind out the clock, and we did a really good job of that other than a couple of penalties.”

Kyle Witkowski turned in a strong performance through the air for the Marauders, as he completed 15 of 20 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns, four of which were caught by Grant Alexander.

“It wasn’t quite as easy as the score would indicate,” Hundeby said. “Even though the Trojans are a new program in our league, they have a very strong defensive line and a really good linebacker, so they have some talent that will make them a tough team to play against as the year goes along.”

Meanwhile, the Crusaders defence found themselves with a tough assignment Thursday as Vikings star running back JT Lamb carried the ball 30 times and rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

“They got run over a few times but our linebackers did a great job of matching up with him,” Strachan said. “Elijah McPherson, Jonty Kruger and Isaiah Holodniuk all came up with some big tackles at some big times for us.

“Elijah also spent time at running back during the game, so it was a pretty good day for him.”

McPherson led the way on the ground for the Crusaders as he carried the ball 13 times and rushed for 164 yards on his way to a pair of touchdowns.

The Crusaders will head back out on the road Friday in search of their first win of the 2018 season as they’ll travel to Saskatoon to face the 1-0 Mount Royal Mustangs.

“We’ve seen some film on them and they look to have a better team than what they’ve had in recent years,” Strachan said. “They are coming off of a big win last week against Bedford Road, so I know that they’ll be fired up to keep that momentum going.”

Meanwhile, the Marauders will make their first appearance of the season at Max Clunie Field Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when the 1-1 Vikings go up against a Prince Albert team for the second straight week.

“They’ve had some turnover from last year’s provincial champions, but I have the utmost respect for what coach (Mike) Humenny has done with that program,” Hundeby said.

“Their running back (Lamb) is probably the most physical running back in the entire province and they have a defence that flies around the field. It will be a good test for us.”