Crusaders Face John Curtis Tonight in District Opener

DSC_0117_2518The Crusaders visited Hahnville last Friday and took control of the game from the opening drive, taking their first lead of the season 7-0 on their way to a 21-6 triumph that moved their record to 1-2. They hope to carry that momentum into the first district game tonight at 7 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium against John Curtis.

The Crimson defense snared three interceptions and held the Tigers’ four-star running back, Pooka Williams, to just 64 yards and no touchdowns after he gained 179 with two six-pointers the week before in a 45-41 loss to John Ehret.

Head Coach Mark Bonis pledged improvement from Week 2 to Week 3, and the team fulfilled that promise.

“We had a good week of practice last week. We’re still far away from where I want to be and made a lot of mistakes, but we did get better.”

Quarterback John-Paul Pierce had his best game of the young season.

“He had guys around him who played particularly well. That allowed him to play within the offense and not press to do too much. The offensive line did a good job of protecting him. Besides the Easton game where we fell behind and had to throw the football and he was a sitting duck, the offensive line has played pretty well the whole year. Still, I’m looking for them to pick up their game, finish blocks, become a little more aggressive.”

On holding the potent Hahnville without a touchdown, Bonis said, “We knew they wanted to run the football – feed No. 7 (Williams). We pressured them more and made the quarterback have to make plays, which he wasn’t used to doing. He’s special on his feet, but they hadn’t had to depend on him throwing the ball.”

With less than five minutes left in the game, Bonis made the controversial decision to take three points off the board after taking a 17-6 lead. He accepted the roughing the kicker penalty to the three-yard line.

“The key was the penalty gave us an automatic first down. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even have thought about it. It was one of the tougher decisions I’ve had to make situation-wise. I had faith in our offensive line, in our run game, and our field goal kicker. I felt the odds were that we were going to score. At the least, we would make them waste their timeouts and take some time off the clock.”

Now attention turns to Curtis, the consensus pre-season pick to win the Catholic League. “They’re the same old Curtis, big, physical. But they do some things differently. They run the football like they’ve always done, but their offense is not as split-back veer as in the past. They return a whole cast of characters, including the quarterback, who started as a freshman last year. Their special teams are impeccable. They just reload year in and year out.”

Still, Bonis welcomes the challenge of starting district play with Curtis for the third straight year. “I’m fine with that. We’re excited about the opportunity to see where our kids are. This is one of those games that will tell us who we are and where we are at this part of the season.”

As in all games, including the opening touchdown drive last week in Hahnville, the first Crusader possession will be scripted.

“The number of plays varies week to week, 10, 12, 14. We see how they’re playing us in our base formations and motions. See if they’re doing what we prepared for or something different.”

With no injuries worth mentioning, the Crusaders are “good to go” for what promises to be an exciting district opener.