High school pre-season (MB): Crusaders and Gophers clash in the last preseason matchup

The final preseason matchup for the CFC50 ranked St. Paul’s Crusaders is against the Garden City Gophers on Wednesday, August 30th. This is the only time this season that the Crusaders will be matching up with Garden City and they are looking forward to it. Head coach Stacy Dainard added, “Coach Wilks does a great job there and we know that Garden City will be highly competitive this season.”

Every preseason the Crusaders travel to Grand Forks North Dakota for some tune up games. “The scrimmage in Grand Forks has always been a very good experience for us,” said Dainard. “Even early in Pre-Season camp players look forward to playing someone other than their teammates and for a Canadian team to play against a number of American schools, there is always an added level of competition.”

This year’s team is heading in the right direction. St. Paul’s had a large number of starters graduate on offense, defense and special teams, so in some ways the players are still figuring out the routine and their roles.

Camp has gone pretty smooth overall for the Crusaders. “While we started a little early to participate in the Grand Forks scrimmage, we have taken a couple days off that we would normally not take off so the pacing of practices has been, I think, pretty good,” mentioned Dainard.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Adamopoulos #27

St. Paul’s will have a new face at quarterback this season with last year’s starter Riley Naujoks gone. At this point the starting spot is still open. The Crusaders are blessed to have two talented young players (Te Jessie gr.10 and Brody Lawson gr.11) both are performing well, working hard, and developing and understanding both the offense and what St. Paul’s wants to do.

The Gophers have had a good preseason this far. “It is exciting as we are starting a 9-man JV team so having both groups out is something I have enjoyed seeing,” replied Gophers’ coach Beau Wilks.

Garden City has a few skill position players on offense that have the ability to have a breakout year this season. Quarterback Jarrett Alcaraz, running back Elijah Rivera, wide receiver Everrett Findley and wide receiver Jordan Asher are all capable of making plays.

One member of the Gophers that is looking to make a comeback is wide receiver Riley Knysh. Riley explained, “My personal goals for this up-coming season are to firstly get back on the field. I’ve dealt with a tough summer thus far dealing with some health issues which have unfortunately kept me off of the field as camp has gotten underway.”

Riley Knysh (R)

During the offseason Riley continued to work with Recruit Ready, putting in work early in the mornings. Riley was furiously working to become a better player for his senior year when he was hit with some health problems early June. These issues have kept him from working on his craft since. Riley is slowly working his way back and he’s hoping to be cleared to play within the next couple weeks. He mentioned, “I am really looking forward to getting back into the end zone and being that reliable receiver I’ve always tried to be.”

The Garden City Gophers have a great group of core players returning, and they are excited to kick things off this year with their new starting quarterback Jarret Alcaraz. Alcaraz is a dual-threat quarterback that can beat teams with his arm, and his legs.

This year, the Gophers plan on competing with the best football teams in the province and qualifying for the Potter Division playoffs as they have the past 2 seasons. “We are looking forward to the season,” said Wilks.


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