Traveling to away contests is usually part of the routine for athletic teams, but this year, the football team will be traveling further than most to participate in a preseason game. The team will be traveling to Canada in preparation for the 2018 season.
Taking part in an opportunity like this offers the Crusaders some unique advantages. The team is already preparing for next season, looking to improve on the 1-9 record they posted last season. Despite only winning one game, head coach Chad Rogosheske insists that there are still positive elements to take away from the fall of 2017.
“We had a lot of young players get opportunity last season,” Rogosheske said of his 2017 team. He added that these opportunities arose because there were “a variety of circumstances” that included injuries and lack of depth at some positions.
First-year running back and kick returner Dylan Schoonover spoke of the resilience of his fellow underclassmen that stepped up in the midst of personnel changes.
“We came together,” Schoonover said of his teammates. “… It’s how you respond and how you react when adversity is being thrown at you that really shows your … character.”
Rogosheske is also optimistic about the team’s trip to Canada, a “foreign tour” as it is called by the NCAA. Every three years, a college is allowed to take one of these tours in which they play an exhibition game against a foreign team. The chance for such a game is valuable for the Crusaders, but perhaps even more valuable is the additional practice time that is granted as a result.
When asked about the extra practice occasions, Rogosheske explained how it differs from a typical spring with the team.
“In preparation for that contest, you’re allowed 10 practices,” Rogosheske said. “… In a normal spring, we would be given 16 strength and conditioning [practices] with limited skill instruction, without any pads.”
Normally, the football team would be limited to conditioning work and basic skill training, using little more equipment than balls and blocking shields; however, the chance to play in Canada brings with it the chance for more substantial spring practices.
“You’re kind of limited in what you can do in a normal spring,” Rogosheske said, “… but in preparation for international competition, the 10 padded practices can be normal, season-type … football practices, where you have access to all the equipment you would use. You can wear pads and really prepare to play football.”
Rogosheske says that this change of schedule “is where the advantage comes in” for his 2018 team.
On May 5, the Crusaders will play their exhibition game against a Canadian semi-pro team called the Steel City Patriots. The game will take place on the Patriots’s home turf in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.
With several rising sophomores such as Dylan Schoonover, who already have a good deal of experience and extra padded practices to prepare for their game in Canada, Crusader football is already extensively preparing for their 2018 season.
“That’s … what’s exciting about the offseason and the opportunities we have this spring,” Rogosheske said. “… To use that experience a lot of the young guys got … and to have an extensive spring.”