Catholic senior Blake Brazwell described his last meeting with Florida High as “a tough game with a movie-like ending” when Catholic won on the road with a 19-13 victory over the Seminoles last season.
Friday’s 7:30 p.m. rematch at Catholic should create a momentous occasion, marking Catholic’s first of two district games and also falls on the Crusaders senior night.
“We just really want to get this win for our seniors … and it is a big district game,” junior linebacker Patrick Richardson said. “This game will get us in the playoffs if we can get this one. Our key to success will be playing in unity. We’ve gotta come out and hit them in the mouth from the first play.
“We’ve had good fan support, I look forward to it being bigger and better with a district game this week.”
The primary challenge for the Crusaders could likely be stopping Florida High’s multi-faceted offense, as the Seminoles can go from running the option to a spread offense in rapid succession.
“We’ve gotta recognize all of the formations that Florida High runs … their offense is really offenses,” said Brazwell, who plays both guard and defensive tackle for the Crusaders. “On offense, we’ve gotta control downs and control the clock. We want time on our side.”
Catholic coach Greg Seibert added that his defense will strive to keep things simple on Friday night.
“Coach (Jarrod) Hickman has been there (Florida High) for a while and does a great job with his kids — they are extremely multiple on offense,” Seibert said. “(The Seminoles) put you in a bad position by doing so many things on offense. We want to keep our game plan and checks as simple as possible and we’ve got to make sure we get aligned on defense. Once we get aligned, the responsibilities become pretty clear. If we can play fast on defense, we will always have a chance.”
For added motivation, the Crusaders constantly keep in mind the four-starters they have lost to season-ending injuries this year, plus a handful of banged up Crusaders will less-severe pains.
“It’s pretty simple, those are my brothers out there,” Brazwell said. “If somebody goes after your family, you fight for your family. If someone goes down on the field, it’s nothing but motivation to play for them.
“When Jaylen (Fortune) got hurt (season-ending knee injury) against Milton, he didn’t talk about the injury. We went to wish him good luck and he said ‘win this.’ Everyone here is family and when someone goes down, we’ve gotta step up.”
The Crusaders have come to own their short-staffed roster in what has been an injury-riddled start, as Richardson said the unit has referred to itself as the “Dirty 30” with just over 30 active players.
“The guys that we have play hard and play with great character,” Seibert said. “We know what’s in front of us and we know what is behind us… that’s what it is about.
“We didn’t start the season like we wanted to. But in the third week, the kids some success early and have continued to build on that. I think they are confident, but they understand that confidence can disappear quickly if they don’t take their game to a higher level each week. Our mantra has been to do something better this week than we did last week. If our guys continue to do that, we have a chance to string together some wins.”
Want to Go?
Who: Catholic Crusaders and Florida High Seminoles
Where: Gorecki-LeBeau Stadium
When: 7:30 p.m.