The Crusaders won a school-record four games last year in a season where they scored 235 points, the most in school history. Aside from the four wins, the Crusaders also lost two games by a combined total of 10 points. Three of their four wins were in region play.
A big key to their success was running back Cole Swanson, who carried the team for much of the year. However, head coach Nathan Duffie said this year’s team is about athleticism and balance as it looks to fill the hole left by Swanson’s graduation.
“This is the most athletic team I’ve coached,” he said. “Defensively, it’s the fastest we’ve been, most physical. Even with a small team, it’s the deepest team. We usually have just one or two positions strong, but we have a good mixture of both.”
The team will be led by sophomore quarterback Christian Reid, who will make his debut as a starter this year. Duffie said Reid’s ability to throw the ball well on any down gives Curtis Baptist a more balanced attack instead of relying on running the ball at any time.
“It’s a team thing; it’s about teamwork,” Reid said. “We work hard in practice, and most of our team has a good relationship.”
Building off the gameplan of a more balanced offensive attack is the duo of sophomore running backs Rickell Lynn and Smokey Poole. Duffie said the ability to use both, along with more touches for senior fullback Daniel Minter, means the team won’t have to rely on one back to carry the load.
“It’s a rare commodity to have two running backs we can share time and feel confident in doing it,” Duffie said. “It will relieve some of the depth issues by sharing the football and throwing it more than we have. We’re not putting the whole offensive burden on one guy.”
After last year’s record-setting campaign, Curtis Baptist is seeing the progression that Duffie envisioned when he took the coaching position six years ago.
“It’s a process,” he said. “It didn’t start last year; it’s a process that takes time. Hopefully we built a foundation from last year’s success where we can continue to build.”