Crusaders Power Up For Another Big Year

ROCKFORD-Every team graduates players but Rockford Lutheran has been focused on priming young talent to fill some big shoes for the past three seasons.

"Even last year, we had the philosophy if one guy goes down, we want another guy to step in and fill," says linebacker Matt Anderson. "We shouldn't lose any ground. So, this year we've got guys that are ready to play."

Anderson and Logan Davis will fill the all-conference linebacker gap left by Grant Osborne and Austin Barnhardt.

<Bruce Bazsali>
"They played outside linebacker and safety, but they've always practiced at linebacker since they've been freshmen," says head coach Bruce Bazsali. "So, these are the guys we wanted to replace. People will be thinking well, they've got two new guys there, but in my mind, they're not that new."

"We're just going to have to increase the intensity overall on both offense and defense because we did lose a lot of key starters," says Davis.

The Crusaders are making replacements, but they're stacked with experience.

"We've got a lot of depth for the fact that we've got sixteen seniors on our team," says Bazsali. "Last year, we only had eight. So technically, we only lost seven kids, because the seven of them played all the time."

The Crusaders' receiving corps is just as deep as last year, and perhaps better. 

"We've got some kids that can run the ball better than our kids did last year," says Bazsali. "Some of those kids are back, but they've got it now. They understand it."

"We have a lot of speed. James Robinson is a great running back, and he can lead us, along with all the other seniors we have," says Anderson.

Individual talent is critical, but team unity is what the Crusaders claim is their biggest strength.

"We have such a good connection that it's hard to break us down, and we're always going to pick each other up," says Anderson.

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