Seffner Christian Academy had a record-breaking 2019 season after a rocky start. The Crusaders have made huge strides as a program, reaching the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. This season was no different, as they reeled off 10 straight wins after losing their first three, losing in the regional championship to eventual state champion Champagnat Catholic.
The Crusaders had high expectations this season after having their best season in school history, going undefeated in the regular season and finishing 11-1 overall in 2018. They battled injuries and a tough schedule in 2019, finishing 10-4.
Head Coach Travis Puelo said that all of the Crusaders’ accomplishments were a team effort. They set or broke 34 team and individual school records. He credits his offensive line, anchored by Titus Mullen, with being a major strength.
“What makes me proud is how we came together with all the adversity we faced with suspensions and kids that were hurt, seeing these kids come together, this is the most unified team that I have ever coached in my life,” said Puelo. “At the very beginning of 2019 we came up with the mantra ‘raise the standard,’ and it’s just ironic that 10, 11 months later we can sit back and say that this group of kids truly did raise the standard.”
They were led by senior Navy signee quarterback Isiah Knowles, who had an outstanding season. Knowles broke his own school record of passing yards in a season that he set in 2018, despite missing the first four games due to an injury. He also owns the school record for most passing yards in a career with 7,126 yards and 91 total touchdowns.
Coach Puelo considers running back Justin Stubbs the heart and soul of his team. The senior had the bulk of the carries with 209, while picking up 1,628 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. He accomplished those feats while not ever coming off the field, playing offense, defense and special teams. He broke the school record of most rushing yards and touchdowns in his career with 45 touchdowns and over 3,100 rushing yards. Stubbs and his teammate Michael Trigg were named coMOPs (Most Outstanding Players) at the banquet by Puelo.
Co-MOP Michael Trigg was an asset for the Crusaders this season. The two-sport star had many different roles, playing wildcat quarterback, running back, receiver and defense. He filled in for an injured Knowles as quarterback for four games, completing 24 attempts for 242 yards and two passing touchdowns.
As a running back, he had 196 yards and five rushing touchdowns. At his natural hybrid tight end position where he was an AllState selection last season, he had 82 receptions for 1,232 yards and 16 touchdowns, which are school records as well. He also had 11 sacks on defense with 83 total tackles and an interception.
According to Coach Puelo, the junior has around 15-20 Division 1 college offers, with two being from SEC powers LSU and Alabama.
Knowles and Stubbs, along with four seniors, will leave Seffner Christian as a part of the winningest class in school history. They have set a precedent for the future of the program. Next season, Seffner Christian will have the largest senior class in the school’s history with 15.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity that’s ahead of us,” said Puelo.