FLEETWOOD — Holy Cross Crusaders showed why they’re one of the top senior football teams in Surrey last weekend.
The squad steamrolled Frank Hurt by a score of 57-0 to solidify its position in the Southern AA conference of the B.C. High School Football Association.
“It’s nice to get a big win like that,” said Conrad Deugau, who’s in his second year as head coach of the senior-division Crusaders.
“We’re a strong team, no doubt about that, but we struggled for two weeks and needed to rebound after a strong week of practice. The guys came to play in a big way.”
In provincial AA football, the team has been ranked in and out of the top five this season. Leading up to Saturday’s home game against Frank Hurt, Holy Cross lost to Langley and Robert Bateman.
Looking ahead, with the playoffs looming, the Crusaders are set to clash with Hugh Boyd of Richmond at home this Saturday (1:30 p.m., Oct. 24), followed by a tilt with Nanaimo’s John Barsby, the defending provincial AA champs.
“This is the meat of the season, really, and we’re pushing for the playoffs,” Deugau said.
“We’ll have two weeks of really tough competition coming up, which is good, good for the kids, because if all goes well for us, we may see them again (in the playoffs).”
Team standouts include quarterback Patrick Shoemay, running backs Paolo Lujan and Jordan O’Reilly, receiver Marcus Browne and linebacker Cole Barron.
Deugau took over coaching duties from Ken Buchan, who led the Crusaders to a provincial AAA championship in 2007. At B.C. Place Stadium that fall, Holy Cross won the Subway Bowl in a 49-19 romp over St. Thomas More Knights, capping a perfect 12-0 season for the Fleetwood-area Catholic school. It was the first and only provincial title for the school’s senior football team.
“We’ve always been a double-A school in terms of enrollment, one of the smaller schools, but we played triple-A for quite a few years and then we made the move to double-A,” Deugau explained. “It was just necessary for the program to (move to AA) at that point, let’s put it that way.”
Holy Cross also operates Grade 8 and junior-varsity teams.
“The interest in football has gotten better here in recent times,” Deugau told the Now.
“After we won (the provincial title), there was a bit of a dropoff, for a variety of reasons, but there’s an energy around football again here, and people are excited to play, people are excited to come watch, you know. The football culture is growing again.”
The football program at Holy Cross got going soon after the school opened in 1982.
“We’re a Catholic school, and the kids come here for that education, and they also come to play sports,” Deugau said. “Football is part of that, and our basketball program is strong, too, so we have athletes who do both. Sports is not the be-all, end-all, but we really value sports at our school.”
This season, Deugau said he’s “blessed” to have the coaching help of Shawn Olson, a Holy Cross grad who went on to win a Vanier Cup national championship in 1997 as quarterback of the UBC Thunderbirds.
“He’s our offensive co-ordinator,” Deugau said, “and he’s a great mind to work with. We’re super fortunate to have him here. The kids love him and they’re excited to have him as a coach. They’re learning a lot from him.”