Crusaders blow away the competition with sturdy defense, get within one game of State Finals

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The Crusaders celebrate their Regional championship.

The Crusaders’ football season was one of big shutouts, a few close losses, and a postseason run all the way to the SemiState game of the IHSAA tournament.

Head Coach Ott Hurrle led the Crusaders for his 31st season. They started 3-3 and then bounced back to plow through some postseason opponents.

“The highlight for me as a coach was how the team hung together during the tough times and how they worked to improve each week,” Hurrle said of the 2021 season. “The team’s closeness and their ability to challenge each other was the main factor in postseason success.”

The Scecina defense, coached by Ben Dugan ’11, was dominant. The Crusaders set a school record with five shutouts during the regular season (vs. Pioneer, 28-0; Cascade, 41-0, on Homecoming; Triton Central, 27-0; Cardinal Ritter, 37-0; Monrovia, 42-0). The Crusaders’ previous record was four shutouts by the 1956 and 1957 teams. The three consecutive shutouts against Triton Central, Ritter, and Monrovia tied the record for consecutive shutouts set by the 1956 and 1980 teams. The team also shut down Shenandoah 34-0 in the Sectional semifinal.

After the Ritter shutout, the Scecina defense even was nominated in the IndyStar’s Week 8 Top Performer of the Week contest, which usually spotlights only individual players’ performances. The team also piled up five sacks in the Ritter game, including two by junior Tamir Woods, who finished the season with 15.5 sacks. He also set a school record with 34 tackles for loss.

For the season, running back senior Dequan Stennis had 1,393 yards rushing. He was named the NFL Players Association Player of the Week in the Week 3.

The Crusaders went 6-3 in the regular season, with losses to Speedway, 17-14; Heritage Christian, 20-14; and Lutheran, 31-20, which went on to win the Class A state title.

The postseason road started with an opportunity to avenge the regular-season loss to Heritage Christian. The Crusaders prevailed with a 40-20 victory. Then came the shutout against Shenandoah and a 21-10 Sectional championship victory over Centerville, coached by 2001 Scecina graduate Kyle Padgett.

The Crusaders next traveled to Lafayette Central Catholic, where they captured the Regional crown with a 31-13 win.

The thrilling season came to an end on Nov. 19 with the 23-7 SemiState loss against the Evansville Mater Dei Wildcats, who proved too big and too strong against the scrappy Crusaders.

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