It was a tough pill to swallow for Bishop Heelan to end the season in 2018. Entering the final week of the regular season the Crusaders were 7-1, but dropped their final two games, including a resounding 42-0 first round loss to Sergeant Bluff-Luton in the playoffs. And there hasn’t been a day the Crusaders haven’t thought about that game this summer.
“That’s motivated us in the weight room in the off-season, you know, summer workouts, and camp the first two days,” said Crusaders junior quarterback Brant Hogue. “Coach Jansen always likes to bring that up if you’re not working hard enough.”
“That was a terrible feeling, especially the way we lost it,” said Crusaders senior lineman Kobe Clayborne. “It wasn’t a close game at all. Sergeant Bluff[-Luton] did what they needed to. and they were the better team that night, but it’s been in the back of our heads ever since that game.”
Gone are Heelan’s top three rushers from last season, meaning more pressure will fall upon the shoulders of returning quarterback Brant Hogue, who, as a sophomore, threw for nine touchdowns last season, and aims to use that early starting experience to his advantage this fall.
“It was a little, I don’t want to say scary, but intimidating at first definitely,” said Hogue. “Once I got a couple of games it came easy a little bit. I’m just going to try to take what the defense gives me, you know, not try to do too much back there. I’ve got a lot of weapons around me, and I’m going to try and get everyone involved, and not put too much pressure on myself.”
On the other side of the ball defensive lineman Kobe Clayborne will be the team’s top pass rusher, coming off a 51 tackle season a year ago. He knows teams will have a plan for him, but he’s ready for the challenge.
“That’s what I work on a lot, is getting double teamed, and how to fight it,” said Clayborne. “We work on that stuff everyday. And I’m just going to try and beat the guy in front of me, and not worry about a double team so much, as attacking one guy.”
Bishop Heelan has only missed the playoffs once since 2007, a 6-3 season in 2016, so the bar is considerably high for the Crusaders. And having experienced the bitter taste of a season ending shutout last season, these players and coaches are eager to make sure that doesn’t happen again in 2019.