By Josh Sutker ‘23

Many people still remember the heartbreaking loss to the Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers in last year’s homecoming game. After going back and forth, the Hilltoppers came out on top 56-49.

Something was in the air last week that fell over the football team.

Senior Trey Pierce said, “It was intense, we all wanted it as a team. We knew that the team who wanted it more would come out on top.”

Traveling out to Joliet allowed the players time to lock in before the game.

Senior Owen Gorman said, “The bus was silent. We were all listening to our music and getting our game faces on.”

Without the support of the Crusader Crazies, the team was on its own. They were forced to create their own energy, which is never a problem. Everyone was nervous, but as soon as the ball was kicked, those nerves filled with vengeance.

After the first quarter, the score was 14-3 Joliet Catholic.

The Crusader defense held the Hilltoppers to zero in the second quarter, and the Crusaders were down eleven going into the half.

Halftime adjustments are always important. The coaches were able to analyze every formation and play the Hilltoppers threw at them. The Crusaders came out of the break looking for blood.

The Crusaders were able to gain seven points back thanks to a touchdown reception from tight end Owen Gorman. The defense got the memo at the break, allowing no points in the third quarter.

Down by four points going into the fourth quarter, the Crusaders needed the leaders to step up and make plays. Quarterback Ryan Hartz ran in for a touchdown, but the Hilltoppers kicked a field goal to even the score. At the end of regulation, the score was 17-17.

The Hilltoppers took the ball to start overtime. They took the ball down the field and made it past the goal line to put the score at 24-17. The Crusaders answered back with a touchdown of their own, courtesy of Randall Nauden, sending the game into double overtime.

The Crusaders started the second overtime with the ball. After marching down the field, Ryan Hartz dropped back in the pocket, seeing wide receiver Owen Lyons in single coverage. Hartz served up a dime to Lyons, who laid out into the end zone to put the Crusaders up by a score.

Everyone went crazy, many said it was the catch of the year.

Lyons said, “When I first caught the ball, my first reaction was to show the refs the ball. When I turned around, they already had their hands up, so I got up and celebrated with the guys.”

It was all up to the defense to hold. They answered the call, stopping the Hilltoppers and securing the victory.

The Crusaders head into homecoming with their heads held high, hoping for a triumphant victory over Marian Catholic.