The 2017 Spring Football Game was held on Saturday at Brown Field as the offense and defense competed against each other in three competitions, and special teams segments were held between each of the three events.
Part one was a fourth down contest, followed by a red zone scrimmage for part two, and an offense versus defense scrimmage for part three.
The fourth down contest was 18 plays long and the offense had to get a first down or more on each play. If the offense got a first down they got a point, if not, the defense received the point.
In the red zone scrimmage, the ball started on the 20-yard line and the offense had to score a touchdown to get points. If the offense scored 29 or more points, they won. There was modified scoring for the offense versus defense scrimmage. The defense got points for every accepted offensive penalty, a defensive stop resulting in a punt, missed field goal attempts, turnovers, and turnovers returned for a TD. Offensive scoring is like scoring in any other football game with the addition of one point awarded for an accepted defensive penalty.
Before the game the captains for the 2017 season were announced on the field. Wide receiver Frank Catrine, linebacker Drew Snouffer, linebacker Jay Slone and defensive back JJ Nunes were all named team leaders. Nunes will be a fifth-year senior next fall and his presence will hopefully inspire the younger players on the team.
“Having a familiar face just makes everybody more comfortable,” Nunes said.
He recently became a father and he plans to be more of a father figure to the underclassmen both on and off the field.
Even though Nunes was wearing a red non-contact jersey and a knee brace coming off of a PCL injury, he still had a great game recording an interception during the offense versus defense scrimmage.
“I’d say I’m about 85 percent...I should be 100 percent by June, full speed and ready to go (for the season),” Nunes said.
Another player who had a great spring game was wide receiver Martin Petruf who most notably scored a TD in the final play of the offense versus defense scrimmage on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Grant Papenfuss.
“Coach Miran just made a good play call right there,” Petruf said. “It caught the defense off guard, I was open and (Papenfuss) found me.”
The day started off slow for the offense as the defense seemed to know where the ball was going almost every play during parts one and two. There was even a stretch where quarterback Chris Duncan had nine straight incompletions in the red zone scrimmage.
“We had two redshirt freshmen at quarterback today,” coach Dave Cecchini said. “They’re both talented young men, but inexperienced. The fourth down period didn’t go as well as they liked, the red zone period went even worse, but they got together and they came out determined and talked about having a fourth quarter type of performance (in part three).”
The offense then came alive in the second half of the offense versus defense scrimmage. The second half started with a 21-yard pass from Duncan who would also throw to Bailey Gessinger for a touchdown later in the drive. Another highlight-worthy play in the scrimmage was a one handed catch in the end zone by running back Griffin Norberg to give the offense the lead. A 19-yard pass to Petruf and the point after being good sealed the deal for the offense as they took the scrimmage 21-11.
The Crusaders will open the 2017 season at Montana on Sept. 2 and the home opener for Valpo will be on Sept. 9 against Duquesne.