The 2023 Seffner Christian Academy Crusaders have a very young roster loaded with 22 total freshmen and sophomores out of 42 players. The team will have to overcome several early season injuries and key players transferring out of the program. The Crusaders missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons last year.
Travis Puelo, who is in his eighth season as head coach, said that this is by far his youngest team when it comes to age and playing experience. The Crusaders return only four starters from last season. The head coach said that this team’s strong suit is their team chemistry. Their slogan is “Stronger Together.” The team had a mission trip to Nashville and a team camp this summer where two of their players were saved. This squad enjoys spending time together.
The Crusaders return three offensive linemen up front and get back their offensive line coach, Kelly Everheart, who was at Armwood last season. The coaching staff has been trying to gain depth by recruiting players in other sports who attend the school.
The team will have to replace two-year starting star quarterback Jordan Magwood, who transferred to rival Carrollwood Day. Senior captain Cameron Knox, who was the backup last season, will take over the reins as QB-1. Knox is a dual threat and brings toughness and a knowledge of the offensive system to the table.
Seffner Christian has a decent starting seven on the defensive front but will have to gain playing experience on the fly in the secondary. Senior captain Jackson Stewart will anchor the offensive and defensive lines, making all the calls. Senior transfer Nikita Wood will play alongside Stewart on the offensive and defensive lines. Elijah Brown just transferred back into the program and will return punts and kickoffs, as well as play a hybrid running back/receiver position in the backfield.
The defense changed systems from an even-man front to an odd-man front under defensive coordinator Devrett Wade. Senior four-year player Sawyer Fowler will play linebacker and is expected to be one of the team leaders in tackling. Sophomore Bo Knox plays Mike linebacker, special teams and running back, and he will call all the plays on defense. He was second on the team in tackles last season, and Puelo expects him to be a team leader in tackles again this season. Sutton Knight will handle the punting and holding duties. Junior kicker Max McColloch, who plays soccer as well, has a strong leg and will handle kickoff, field goal and extra point duties.
The Crusaders are playing in one of the toughest districts in the state of Florida, having to play Carrollwood Day, Cambridge Christian and Clearwater Central Catholic. The team will have to gain experience quickly and get better if they want to make the playoffs this season.
8/25 @ Windermere Prep
9/1 @ Indian Rocks Christian
9/15 @ Northside Christian
9/22 vs. Cambridge Christian
9/29 vs. Specially Fit Academy
10/6 vs. Foundation Academy
10/13 @ Carrollwood Day
10/20 @ Bronson
10/27 @ Clearwater Central Catholic