Brother Rice football is back and ready for action, as the team opens at home against the Shepard Astros Friday. Although it may be one of the greatest transition seasons in recent memory, first-year Head Coach Brian Badke and his revamped staff welcome the challenge.
Many of the changes implemented with Coach Badke’s system were apparent to spectators last Friday, when the annual Maroon and Orange scrimmage took place. From a basic perspective, spectators can expect a lot more passing from the offense and much more quarterback pressure from the Crusader defense.
Offensively, one major challenge the Crusaders face is replicating the production of graduated running backs Martez Walker and Andrew Walker, each with 20 plus touchdowns last season. In order to remedy this void, the Crusaders will rely heavily on the arm of senior quarterback Matt Page. As Pat Parrilli’s backup last season, Page used his limited game action as a learning experience for this coming season. He is now considered one of the team leaders.
“Coach Badke has put emphasis on accountability and discipline,” said Page. “I feel the coaching staff will prepare us for our opponents each week and, at the same time, shape us all into better men of Edmund.”
The running game will still remain a prominent part of the offense, with senior Pete Capron and sophomore Marcus Jones ready and willing to contribute as much as they can to benefit the team.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Crusaders are not going to wait around for their opponent to do something. Senior safety Mike Bettinardi says the pressure they are ready to apply may hurt them from time to time, but they are willing to live with the results.
“The defense we’re using is so intricate with coverages and blitzes that offenses will have no idea how to read us,” said Bettinardi. “Everyone is excited because the coaches have put us in position to make tons of plays throughout the year.”
Another challenge for the Crusaders is avoiding the injury bug. With a limited amount of sophomore and junior reserves, it is more important than ever to keep the starting core as healthy as possible.
When the Crusaders face the Astros, the game should play out as a culmination of all the hard work and effort put forth by Coach Badke and his players in the offseason. While a perfect season is unlikely, fans can be sure of this: the 2012 Crusader football squad will play hard and fight until the last horn sounds. They face their first test on Friday.