Seffner Christian Academy Crusaders team photo.

The Seffner Christian Crusaders have graduated 31 seniors over the last two years. The roster, which is the largest in team history with 54 total players, is talented but chock-full of underclassmen. Of the 54 players, about 30 of them are underclassmen. The young Crusaders will have to learn on the fly while at the same time keeping up the winning tradition and playoff streak. The team returns five starters on offense and six on defense and has made the playoffs a school-record four straight seasons and five out of the last six seasons overall.

Sophomore Jordan Magwood is a super talent at the quarterback position. He led his squad last season as a freshman with nine passing touchdowns and over 1,000 passing yards while picking up 107 yards on the ground and producing five rushing touchdowns. The dual-threat signal caller is expected to make a huge improvement in his second year commanding the offense. Head coach Travis Puelo said that Magwood is a leader on and off the field and carries a 3.9 GPA.

Puelo, who is in his seventh season as head coach, is excited to add former Seffner Christian star QB Isaiah Knowles to his staff as the quarterbacks coach. The former record-setting all-state selection will be able to help mentor the young Magwood. Puelo said that both his former and current quarterback are similar when it comes to skill level and athletic ability, but Magwood is further ahead in his development at the position than Knowles was when he was a sophomore. Knowles played at Navy the last two seasons and is currently in the transfer portal. 

Seffner Christian will run a traditional 4-3 defense under D-coordinator Devrett Wade. They plan to get after the quarterback with a base four-man front. Puelo wants his team to be balanced on offense but will take what the defense gives him. He said that they can improve on finishing on both sides of the ball by scoring touchdowns in the red zone and creating turnovers on defense.

Key players on offense include senior Sumner transfer Odarius King, who is the fastest guy on the team and will play receiver, defensive back and will also return kicks and punts on special teams. Junior running back Terek McCant led the team in rushing last season and will carry the bulk again in 2022. Making an impact on defense will be sophomore cornerback Damari Styles; sophomore Cam Knox, who is a multisport athlete that will play defensive end and tight end; and senior Carlton Williamson, who will play a big role as a defensive tackle.

Puelo said that his team’s major strength is its unity and team chemistry. The 2022 squad’s slogan is “Team over me.” The team spends a lot of time together off the field as genuine friends.

“I think that’s going to be a tremendous force down the road, especially when we get in those tough football games and have to rely on some guys to step up and have big plays, to trust one another and have the confidence in one another,” he said. “This team has been grinding together since January.”

The Crusaders’ toughest challenge will be winning its new district and making the playoffs with the new format. They may be in the best district in the state of Florida, having to face Cambridge Christian, Carrollwood Day and Clearwater Central Catholic. Carrollwood Day is ranked third in the power rankings in the state and Clearwater Central Catholic is the eighth ranked team. Puelo and company hope to bring home their school’s first district title this season.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.