If you would have told the Crean Lutheran High School Football players four and a half months ago that they would have the greatest season in school history, they would have thought you were a little crazy.
However, if you ask their coaches, they will tell you they knew it was within the realm of possibility.
“There was a little bit of apprehension going into the season,” Head Coach Rick Curtis said. “But I think confidence started building after a successful summer.”
After some great summer sessions and success in a passing tournament before the season, confidence started to build among this team. Not only was confidence building, but also a sense of camaraderie. This team started coming together as just that… a team.
Then, once the season hit, it was boots to the ground and this team started firing on all cylinders. The Saints beat their first two opponents by a combined 83 points, and Curtis said that is when the team really began to realize they can compete with the best of them. In fact, they won their first nine games of the season, beating their opponents by an average of over 24 points per game.
So what went into this newfound success of a usually average high school football team? Curtis chalks it up to two reasons in particular: the senior class and playing at Crean Lutheran High School.
For starters, this senior class in particular went through so much in their four years of high school football. Between coaching changes and a pandemic, there was so much drama and adversity over their four years.
“I think number one, the senior class made it special,” Curtis said. “This senior class had to go through a lot of changes, between coaches and COVID. They dealt with adversity but reaped the rewards… We’re going to miss those guys.”
When you have seniors who go through a lot and step up to the plate in a big way, that makes all the difference in the world for a high school team. The younger Saints players had leaders to look up to, and that went a long way in helping them build instant success.
On top of that, however, is the fact that the 2022 Crean Lutheran team got to play their games at home. There was never a football stadium at the school before this season, so they always had to play all their games on the road. However, this year that changed, and it made a huge difference.
“One of the things was our ability to play at an on-campus stadium,” Curtis said. “It was the first time as a school that we had on-campus seating. We used to have to go to other schools to play. But this year we got the total game experience with the players, student section and parents. It was a small town atmosphere that we pumped up. It really kind of catapulted us.”
The Saints football team had the full and total support of the school, and that made such a difference. They had a student section cheering them on, and it got the players more into the game.
On top of that, it added a whole new dimension to the Crean Lutheran school spirit. As Curtis mentioned, when your football team is doing well, it helps create success for the rest of the campus.
“Obviously for our program, it is a game changer,” he said. “Now the expectations are there. Going to the playoffs, they know what it takes to get there now. It’s kind of changed that approach… The school spirit was great. We have the blue zone in our endzone. Having it on campus and being with the rest of their peers made a difference. We really pumped up the blue zone… It will help create positive vibes throughout the rest of the year. More people are going to basketball games than ever before as well.”
When your football program finds success, it tends to have a trickle down effect on the rest of your athletics programs. Plus, you have students who want to go to games because there is something to cheer for.
That is something Curtis hopes his team continues to hold onto going into their summer workouts as well as into next season. They finally made the playoffs and won a playoff game, but Curtis and the rest of the coaching staff know 10-2 is the new standard for the Crean Lutheran High School Football team.
Regardless, Curtis and the staff are very proud of their team and all the success they had this year. They are thankful for the support of the students and the parents. But more than that, they are thankful for their players and their buy-in and dedication, and they want the senior class to know they will be missed.
Congrats on the historic season, Saints!