In today’s world, football is dominated by teams running the spread offense. However, Lutheran North head coach Carl Reed employs the Wing T offense and is a firm believer. He loves it so much he has a clip of former Crusader, Donovan Marshall scoring on a long run from 2017 pinned on his Twitter profile. The Wing-T isn’t the hardest to plan for, but when you have a line with the size, talent, and work rate like North, then it’s quite strenuous to defend. The Wing T has indeed “stood the test of time,” and it’s served the Crusaders well in the past two seasons going 22-4. Along with a consistently loaded defense as well, they also haven’t been defeated by an area school since 2016 and have all the pieces in place heading in the 2019 season.
Jordan Smith (1,068 total yards, 19 total touchdowns, 6 INTs)
Ali Wells (59 carries, 675 yards, 10 TDs)
Travion Ford (84 tackles, 17 sacks)
Justen Richardson (6-1, 260 lbs)
Jaylin Knox (5-10, 300 lbs)
Marquis Cain (6-3, 300 lbs)
Talon Dotson (6-2, 275 lbs)
Itayvion Brown (91 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 INT)
Antonio Doyle (42 tackles, 1 sack)
Aubrey Parker (71 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INTs)
Cam Griffin (57 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs)
Caldra Williford (61 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
You won’t find a defense anywhere in Missouri with the combination of skill and ferocity like Lutheran North. Better yet, maybe the nation. They picked up one of the best defensive athletes in the country. Travion Ford (formerly Lutheran St. Charles) is a 4-star defensive end with offers from Alabama, LSU, Mizzou, Ohio State, and Oregon among others. His combination of superior strength and sharp quickness for a lineman his size is unbelievable. Then you got a pair of D1 linebackers, Itayvion “Tank” Brown (6-4, 215 lbs) and Antonio Doyle (6-4, 221 lbs), who transferred from Hazelwood West. Brown is committed to Minnesota and Doyle with Mizzou. The secondary will be stacked with Griffin, a Western Michigan commit, Parker, and Williford all return after productive seasons. Add in sophomore transfer Toriano Pride, who is already receiving D1 attention. The Crusaders return the majority of their offensive line with Cain, Knox, and Richardson. Ali Wells is the most explosive sophomore running back in the state. He averaged 11 yards per carry last year and has a tremendous opportunity of a season ahead of him.
Diagnosis: The Crusaders have the best defense in the St. Louis area. Don’t @ me. The front seven is absolutely ridiculous with not only D1 talents but next level players with size and tenacity that is unmatched. It’s not every decade you have a Big Ten or an SEC linebacker let alone both on your team. Then there’s Ford who is one of the best defensive ends in the nation and he’s only 16 years old. We’ve seen how big and tough North is, but this might be the best defense they’ve had in Reed’s tenure because of vast experience and ability the secondary has. They’ll be extra tough to crack, especially now against solid spread offenses. Last year they shut out six teams. I think they’ll get more. Over the previous two years, the Crusaders made it to the Class 2 semifinals and fell short to the eventual state champion. We all know North is gunning for a state championship, but those previous playoff shortcomings might be what pushes the Crusaders across the finish line this year. Defense wins championships, and so does a consistent, hard-nosed running attack. Lutheran North has both.