Cape Christian High School is at it again. For the fourth time in five years, the Crusaders are transitioning to a new game, so to speak.
Mike Curtis has been the athletic director and football coach through all of this, and has learned to be flexible. His Crusaders have, in successive seasons, played traditional 11-man football, switched to the 6-man game for two years, changed to 7-man the next year, and now are embarking on a schedule against flag football teams.
It is often par for the course for smaller private schools. Curtis lost eight of his players to graduation and transfers, and with only seven players showing interest before practice started, was uncertain if there was going to be a season.
He spent time last week trying to recruit every possible player from the present student body, and also asked around for other possible players. By the end of the week, he had 17 turn out. After finding enough players, he is building a squad to play against other smaller schools.
His hopes are to return to the seven-man tackle game again in the future, but for this year will concentrate on flag football.
"Rather than shut down the program for a year, we're playing this year to maintain our athletes' competitive edge, and to give them this outlet to play." Curtis said.
Rather than being part of the FCAPPS, the Crusaders will function as an independent team, playing schools they often face during basketball season. Curtis is planning a tournament at the end of the season with many of the local teams the same size as Cape Christian.
Classes did not start until Aug. 22 for Cape Christian, so the Crusaders are a little behind other schools.
Curtis pointed out that two of his 2013 graduates landed in college football. Daulton Rieter is playing for Ave Maria University and Joey Mazur is playing in Pennsylvania at St. Vincent's College.
The players Curtis will look to this year include seniors Jordan Dugger and Derek Clarke, both of whom play wide receiver and outside linebacker; freshman Rudy Jimenez at quarterback and safety; and sophomore twin brothers Sergi and Sergio Morales, both at running back and cornerback.
Playing flag football will allow the Crusaders to play home games on their own campus field.
"We're looking to have fun this year, and to have a successful season," Curtis said. "Most importantly, we want to teach them about Jesus."
The Crusaders open the season by traveling to Gospel Baptist on Thursday.