The long and hard-fought battles of a high school football season ended on a rough note for the John Paul II Crusaders Saturday afternoon.
In a battle for a spot in the 3A nine-man provincial playoffs, the Martensville Royals came away with a dominant win on their home field as they cruised to a 58-0 victory to end the Crusaders season.
“I have to give credit to Martensville,” Crusaders head coach Bruce Yockey said. “They played basic but solid football and they really executed well on both offence and defence.
“It was pretty close early on, and even when it was 18-0 we were moving the ball well between the 20-yard lines, but we just couldn’t get anything into the end zone. Then we threw an interception and had a turnover on downs, and that’s when things started to snowball and they piled up the points.”
In their previous meeting in North Battleford on Sept. 22, the Royals took advantage of a rough start for the Crusaders and had a solid game from quarterback Ethan Moran on their way to a 36-8 win.
“I thought their running game had improved a lot from when we played them the first time,” Yockey said. “They were able to rattle off six, seven and eight yard runs, and that’s tough to try and overcome.”
The Crusaders, who had a 3-3 record in the regular season in Conference 4 play, dealt with the injury bug for most of the year as veteran players Jacob Stynsky and Narcisse Mbwebwe battled through nagging issues throughout the second half of the campaign.
“I feel bad for both of those guys as I know they would have loved to have been able to play every game, but they were still there to support the team and they gave it 100 percent when they could,” Yockey said. “You couldn’t ask for more out of them.
“It was bad luck to have some of our better players out with injuries, so we had to patch up those holes the best that we could, but we’re excited about the younger players who got a chance to play more as a result of that. With those guys coming back, and the players who are coming up from our junior program, the future looks bright for us.”
Thanks to their win over the Crusaders, Martensville will visit Esterhazy for a provincial quarter-final game Saturday.
The defending provincial champion Warman Wolverines and the Kindersley Kobras were the other teams from the Crusaders’ conference that made it to the playoffs.