The regular season has yet to begin, but the Holy Cross Crusaders are demonstrating they are near the front of the pack in the B.C. High School Football Association.
The Crusaders hosted the Abbotsford Panthers at holy Cross Regional High School on Saturday afternoon, and upset a team considered by many to be the best in the Double-A category.
“Abby is a quality program but we rose to the occasion and played them very well,” said Crusaders head coach Conrad Deugau of the 34-23 victory.
“We had a very good week of practice and came out significantly better than how we did against Windsor. This was an important win for our program and we showed a lot of improvement this week.”
The win was the third in as many non-conference games for Holy Cross, and came against a team which had scored 84 points while winning their previous two starts.
The Crusaders caught a break in the first quarter when Panthers receiver Chase Claypool was ejected for a pair of objectionable conduct penalties. Claypool had caught 14 passes for 396 yards in the previous two games.
Holy Cross led 14-7 at the time, and extended the lead to 27-7 by halftime, then hung on in the second half as the Panthers chipped away at the Crusaders’ lead.
Jordan O’Reilly had a huge outing in his first game as a running back. The Grade 12 athlete was moved from the offensive line into the backfield during practice this week.
“He’s an athletic kid and was given the opportunity to show a different skill set and he rose to the occasion,” said Deugau. “He was one of our best players on the field.
“He ran the ball very well and picked up many important first downs and three rushing touchdowns.”
Other standouts included Grade 11 running back Jed Paclaon, who “added an element to our run game which creates a change of pace,” and receiver Marcus Browne and quarterback Patrick Shoemay.
“They were once again impact players even though they were held without a touchdown between them, Deugau said. “Teams are aware of their ability and have to prep for that so even when the pair don’t get a score they still impact the game.”
The Crusaders will be at home to the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford in their final non-conference game Saturday at 1:30 p.m.