Curtis Baptist coach Nathan Duffie knew the gap was closing, and he had the statistics to prove it.
The deficits were no longer ocean-sized and, soon, the wins started to follow.
Now the Crusaders football team is having its best season ever.
“I had to sell them progress, not wins,” Duffie said. “So we had to use statistics. Every year we scored more than the year before and gave up less than the year before.”
The numbers Duffie depended on to show progress can now be used to prove how much the team has accomplished. Curtis Baptist went from one win in both 2008 and 2009 to three in 2010 and then to four in 2011.
This year, the Crusaders are 6-3 heading into Friday’s game against Thomas Jefferson. It’s the first day in November and this year’s team has already set the program record for wins in a season. Also, with a four-game winning streak – all from region contests – the Crusaders have their longest win streak and most wins in region play for a season.
“We’ve never had momentum before,” Duffie quipped.
Offensively, Curtis Baptist averages 26.9 points and needs to score only 25 more points to set a single-season record. On the other side of the ball, the defense has allowed only 16.2 points per game.
Curtis Baptist (6-3 overall, 4-0 Region 1-A) has also wrapped up at least a No. 3 seed for the GISA Class A state playoffs, another best.
The foundation of success started with players such as Cole Swanson, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards a year ago, and continued with a young but talented group.
Bothers Christian Reid and Trey Reid have helped pace the offense. Christian, the sophomore quarterback, has thrown for 705 yards. Trey, a junior, moved from receiver to running back because of injuries and has taken off, putting up 662 rushing yards this season behind a strong line.
“It’s been real exciting,” center D.J. Zellner said. “It’s never been like this before.”
But the defense has also improved behind coach Cliff Richards. Richards likes to challenge his players mentally, so he gives his team multiple fronts to use to stop opponents.
But even if the Crusaders can’t end a nine-game losing streak to Thomas Jefferson, Duffie knows his team won’t stop working.
“They know their past,” Duffie said. “They know where they came from. Once you fight to break out, you don’t want to go back.”