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Two goals are on the mindset of players and coaches with the Austin O’Brien Crusaders of the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA).

“Our team’s goals are to qualify for Edmonton’s Division One playoffs and return to the Provincial Final,” commented Crusaders Head Coach Darcy Ogonoski, who is back for his 23rd season at the helm.

Experience will prove to be an advantage for the Crusaders heading into the 2014 season.

“One of our strengths is the big game experience we have from winning three consecutive provincial championships,” assessed Ogonoski.  “With 25 returning players we have the advantage of knowing how hard you have to work to win a provincial title and how to handle pressure situations.”

“We also return four out of five starting offensive lineman from last season which is always an early season advantage.”

ryan foster cfc pvs

Offensively, four linemen will play an integral role in the success of the unit’s game execution- Seeon Smith, Austin Ferenac, Emerson Nashman and Christian Oyson.

“This experienced group should give returning quarterback Ryan Foster plenty of time to throw the ball and help us establish a solid run game,” added Ogonoski.

Moreover, Foster will have a number of options to give the ball to – Julien Rivera, Isaac Nianda and Jake Schimpf. Ryle Atkins also returns as a pivot alongside Foster.

Schimpf, Tristan Thompson, and Curtis Blissett will anchor the Crusaders defense.

“With all the spread offenses, we see their experience will really help,” said Ogonoski of the trio.

There are two players that could potentially experience breakout seasons with the Crusaders.

“Travis Hopkins from our junior varsity program proved to be very versatile during spring camp playing both offense and defense,” assessed Ogonoski.  “Also, Bureh Koroma who is new to our program stepped in as a Mac linebacker and added a great deal of speed to our defense.”

Jonathan Muamba

However, the Crusaders will have to deal with the loss of five players from last year’s team – CFC 100 Johnathan Muamba, Frederick Muamba, Fabeian Johnson, Kadeem Morin and Oleg Ivanchenko.

“Spring camp allowed us to experiment with different players in each of their previous roles and we are comfortable with our personnel moving forward,” offered Ogonoski of how the team will address the gaps.

Furthermore, there is another concern the team is trying to compensate for on this year’s roster.

“One of the areas we will be a little weaker initially is at the linebacker position as we graduate two starters don’t see this being a long term issue as we have the regular season to develop this group,” evaluated Ogonoski.  “Our two returning linebackers Liam Maxwell and Logan Gozjlko are looking forward to playing a larger roll with that group.”

Jake Schimpf


Ogonoski gave an outlook of what to expect from both the offense and defense on the field.

“Our offensive style has always been geared toward the bad weather you experience in provincial play downs,” offered the Crusaders Head Coach.  “Defensively, our style is to be able to adapt to all types of offensive styles we are presented with.”

Overall, the Crusaders are expecting stiff competition within their division as well as provincially.

“Playing in Division One in Edmonton presents its challenges for sure and this year will be no different,” commented Ogonoski.  “The pre-season favorite will be the defending champion Salisbury Sabres as they return a large core of players.”

“The Bellrose Bulldogs could be the surprise team this year as two consecutive years with a championship junior varsity team may result in success at the senior level as well.  On the provincial side St Joes from Grande Prairie looked strong in the spring and will be a threat to represent the north this year.  Our quarterfinal match up will be against Lloydminster which always plays a very physical brand of football.”

In spite of the competition, the Crusaders are committed to achieving their goals in 2014.

“The players are dedicated to off season training and to improving throughout the season,” expressed Ogonoski.

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2013 RECORD: 7-3, Alberta Tier 2 Champions

HEAD COACH: Darcy Ogonoski (23rd season)



KEY RETURNEES: Seeon Smith (offensive line), Austin Ferenac (offensive line),Emerson Nashman (offensive line), Christian Oyson (offensive line), Ryan Foster (quarterback), Julien Rivera (running back),Isaac Nianda (running back), Jake Schimpf (running back/defensive back), Tristan Thompson (defensive back), Curtis Blissett (defensive back), Liam Maxwell (linebacker), Logan Gozjlko (linebacker)

KEY LOSSES: Johnathan Muamba (CFC 100 – running back), Frederick Muamba, Fabeian Johnson, Kadeem Morin, Oleg Ivanchenko

“X” FACTOR: Travis Hopkins, Bureh  Koroma “Travis Hopkins from our junior varsity program proved to be very versatile during spring camp playing both offense and defense.  Also, Bureh Koroma who is new to our program stepped in as a Mac linebacker and added a great deal of speed to our defense.” – Darcy Ogonoski, Head Coach Austin O’Brien Crusaders


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