Luke Perrett ’24
The St. Paul’s Crusaders Football program entered this season fol-lowing a disappointing ending in 2021, but they were back better than ever. The program, begun in 1931, has seen many champi-onships in its decorated history. However, the school had not won the ANAVETS Bowl Champion-ship since 2019 due to a COVID season off, and Vincent Massey captured the title last year.
The Crusaders were a perfect 7-0 heading into the final game of the regular season against the Dakota Lancers, with a few spe-cial wins along the way. The first of these was a season opener win visiting Vincent Massey, one that would set the tone for the rest of the season. The second was a win against Dakota, which turned out to be the first of the three matchups with them through-out the year. Lastly, there was the homecoming win over Vincent Massey on October 14, 2022.
Here’s what quarterback Cole Anseeuw ’24 had to say about the experience: “It was amaz-ing, everyone coming togeth-er to play the game we love. All the guys playing their hearts out, and reflecting back, [it] re-ally came as a shock knowing that I only have one homecom-ing left at St. Paul’s to play in. Even though it was a close game, we still got the win [making] the great memories with each other that will last a lifetime.”
As mentioned, the record was perfect when heading into week 8, although a surprise 29-19 loss to Dakota ended the streak. De-spite the tough loss, the Cru-saders were able to pull them-selves together and take down Oak Park 22-13 at Investors Group Field in the semi-finals.
This led them to the “final stage”: the ANAVETS Bowl on Novem-ber 12th. It was a scenic view for a Winnipeg High School Football game as snow swiftly dropped from the sky and cov-ered the field while fans braved the cold winds in the stands.
Late in the first quarter, An-seeuw ’24 threw a long pass to Porter Holland ’23, who was able to bring it into the end zone to give the Crusaders the lead. In a similar fashion, Dakota brought one to the house with minimal time left in the second quarter, to make the game 8-8 heading into halftime. Late in the third quar-ter, Dhevin Gajaweera ’23 ran one in for another touchdown to put the Crusaders up 15-8. Half-way through the fourth quar-ter, Dakota made a field goal to bring them 3 points closer, but neither team made a change to the scoreboard, and the Cru-saders were able to hold their 15-11 lead until the final play.
Here’s what coach Dainard ’88 had to say about the season: “For the grade 11s and 12s on the Var-sity football team, their St. Paul’s journey, and more specifically their football journey was dis-rupted—like everything else—by COVID-19. After a cancelled season in 2020 and an abbreviat-ed season in 2021, the grade 11s and 12s on the Varsity football team did a great job of working hard in the off-season to prepare for the 2022 season. Throughout the season, players and coach-es worked very hard to improve each week so that we could per-form well when it mattered most. Congratulations to the members of the 2022 Varsity Crusader Foortball team on a great season.”
Gajaweera ’23 earned himself offensive player of the game. As well, other teammates making the all-division team, including: Cole Anseeuw ’24 (Quarter-back), Kiernan MacDonald ’23 (Offensive Line), Brandon Ku-bay ’24 (Receiver), Izzy Opanu-bi ’23 (Defensive Line), Njita Sinkala ’24 (Defensive Back), Eamon Wallace ’23 (Defen-sive Back), and Dario Macchia ’23 (Linebacker) who also won defensive player of the year. Here’s what Macchia ’23 had to say about the season as a whole: “The season in its entirety was a great experience with a special group of guys. We all showed up day in and day out and over-came adversity in the end.”
With strong offence, strong de-fense, a great coach, and a col-laborative and encouraging team, the Crusaders were able to show what true champions are.