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GICC Crusaders hope in experience for successful season
Some teams take the football field for their openers a week from tonight and will play six games before October 1st. Other teams openers are two weeks from Friday night.
One of those teams is the Crusaders of Grand Island Central Catholic.
They have a tough road ahead, but also have a coach who's experience leads us to believe they can travel that road successfully.
GICC Crusader football coach Charlie Shoemaker is about to embrace a great challenge. His team has 37 players, more than 20 less than some of his competitors.
Teams like the powerful Adams Central Patriots. The Patriots, fresh off a great run in the Class B playoffs, including a win over none other than the state powerhouse McCook Bison, drop down into Class C-1, right into the Crusaders district. Yet, the coach says his squad will be ready for whomever the opposition.
"You can't complain about what you have, you've got to do what you can with what you have and our kids are practicing like they want to be good and I think that's going to do some things for us," said Coach Charlie Shoemaker.
"It really means we have to do a good job of staying healthy. We can't have guys get injured since we don't have much depth," said quarterback Riley Shoemaker.
Charlie Shoemaker has coaches at just about every level. He led the 8 man Silver Lake Mustangs with such stars as former K-State Wildcat turned Husker Derek Meyer to the playoffs before coaching at Class A Lincoln Northstar.
He led these Crusaders to the playoffs two seasons ago losing a heartbreaker. He knows how to build a good football team and his quarterback knows that best of all.
"I've been around him coaching other teams forever and I just trust him and I know what he's doing is right. I've learned how good teams work and how things can fall apart if things don't go well," said Riley.
Coach Shoemaker and the players sometimes look inside for inspiration. Volleyball coach Sharon Zavala has led her team to 9 state championships.
"Not just Sharon, Sharon does a great job you've got Coach Gavers and all of our programs and all of our kids want to be on top in those programs and that's just something that all of our coaches are on the same page and we just want to push our kids and give them as many opportunities as they can and hope it works out," said Coach Shoemaker.
Riley and the Crusaders host the Minden Whippets at Grand Island's Memorial Stadium in Friday night's August 31st opener.
We'll see if they can turn the tables on the Dogs who defeated them down in what's known as the Christmas City last season.
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