On an early Thursday morning more than 200 guys rolled out of bed and made their way to the Cru’s football practice facility. Even though it wasn’t light outside just yet, that didn’t hold back the enthusiasm of the men who were about to begin a season with expectations of a national championship.
“I couldn’t wait to get back out on the field with my whole team and get to work. Fall Camp is tough, but it is something I thoroughly enjoy,” senior running back Elijah Hudson said.
The Crusaders expect to be great, but they know that it doesn’t come without a price.
“As a program, we have been successful for awhile, so sometimes that can lead to a team becoming comfortable. We understand that and aren’t going to let that happen, we have a ways to go before we are where we want to be, and the only way to get there is hard work,” Hudson said.
As it goes with every new season, it is a difficult task filling voids in the offense, defense, and special teams that were left by graduating seniors or players transferring out.
In years past, the Cru have found valuable underclassmen or players who have been in the program for a couple of years to fill shoes.
“We lost some key players from last year, but I wasn’t worried at all because I saw the hard work that people put in this summer,” Hudson said, “So I knew we were going to have people step right in and fill positions. It’s all part of the cycle, and I think the younger guys have caught on quick.”
The team had a full schedule of workouts, gearing up for week one against Redlands University in Redlands, Calif. So the players and coaches were more than ready to begin their season.
Head coach Pete Fredenburg said, “We are very excited to get started. The trip to the Redlands was a big test for our football team, and we know more about our team after that contest.”
The Cru had one scrimmage before they headed out west to face the Redlands. They traveled to Seguin, Texas, to face Texas Lutheran University; this gave them a sense of what they were doing well on and what still needed work.
Senior wide receiver Eric Nelson said, “I think overall we played well, but there are still things that didn’t look extremely good. I mean that’s fine though. It wouldn’t be normal for us to go out there
and look like a team that was playing in week 10.”
That subject was one Fredenburg pointed out as well. Before a team can move too far with the “X’s and O’s,” a bond must be created. “We have been emphasizing leadership and trust, just going through the process of developing the chemistry for this year’s team.”
The Crusaders showed they were all on the same page in their recent game against the Redlands, defeating them 31-13. The Crusaders dominated the Redlands in every aspect of the game. But the most dominating aspect of the outing was the rushing attack.
Senior running back Hudson found gaping holes created by the Cru’s offensive line.
Another major story line developing for the Cru was the first time start of quarterback Jake Sims.
“Jake played well and handled the flow of the offense. It was a good start, but there is still room for improvement,” Hudson said.
Sims threw for 209 yards and spread the ball out to a talented receiving core led by junior Kamray Runnels and sophomore Keith Reinke. The Crusaders relied on the run but also showed that they could move the ball effectively through the air as well.
The players didn’t have much time to enjoy the West Coast before they have to make the trek to the East Coast this Saturday. They will travel to New Jersey to face Kean University. The Cru defeated Kean last season.
“We are excited about our opportunities to travel to California and New Jersey,” Fredenburg said. “It’s always fun to travel and see different parts of the country and play different opponents.”