Carlstad Crusaders looking for a return to top in Sweden

It’s been three years since the Carlstad Crusaders hoisted the Swedish championship trophy after “owning” the title for eight straight seasons. Is this the year they take it back?

The title quest for the Crusaders begins this Saturday when Sweden’s top league, the Superserien kicks off.

The Swedish Superserien will be the third league in the world to play a season of football since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe.

The season in Sweden opens with four teams – Örebro Black Knights, Carlstad Crusaders, Stockholm Mean Machines and Uppsala 86ers – playing a shortened schedule with each team playing a total of six games starting August 22 with the regular season winding up September 26.

Carlstad had a pretty good year in 2019, but still came up short finishing second in the league after the Stockholm Mean Machines who defeated them in the title game 49-35. In fact, the Crusaders only losses last year were to Stockholm. However, since winning the championship in 2010, defeating the Tyreso Royal Crowns that year in the process, Carlstad has fashioned n incredible 94-11 record with 10 finals appearances and eight titles. Four times they went through the season undefeated (2010, 2014, 2016 and 2017) three times had only one loss during the season (2011, 2015 and 2018). Unfortunately that loss in 2018 was in the final to the Mean Machines.

This year, head coach Billy BD Kennedy is looking forward to the challenge and to his team’s opening game opponent, the Stockholm Mean Machines:

“It’s the first game of the year and when you are playing an opponent like the Mean Machines, who you play several times a year, you feel like you know what to expect, but at the same time you really don’t know anything. It will be exciting to play ball again. It has been the longest “pre-season” I have ever been involved with.”

Carlstad enters the season with a new quarterback as Kennedy has brought in Danny Farley as his signal caller. Farley, a 6’2″, 210 pound native of Boonton, New Jersey had signed to play for the Cologen Crocodiles but with the German Football League season cancelled, came to Sweden. He spent the past two seasons playing for the Solingen Paladins in the German 2nd division, GFL2, throwing for a total of 5,310 yards and 48 touchdowns.

““Danny is a quality player with a great attitude. Danny is a guy who has a high understanding of football and has tremendous leadership ability along with being extremely competitive.”

At running back, the Crusaders will start with a local product, Emil Östlund while the team’s leading receiver in 2019, Kevin Brözsei, has returned and is joined by veteran Robin Juhlin as well as the youth movement consisting of Jakob Bergwall and Alexander Segerfeldt.

“We have an interesting group of young faces at the wideout position this season. I think it will be exciting to watch them develop..”

The entire offensive line from the Swedish final has returned giving the offense a solid unit to start the year. Starting center Martin Thor leads a unit that also includes veteran tackles Niklas Johansson and Anton Hyvönen with guards Marco Gudding and John Lindgren.

“Those five as a unit are really solid. From left guard over to right tackle we have the vets while at left tackle we have the youth movement creeping in to the unit.”

Defensively, two of the keys for Carlstad are linebackers Christian Kulenstjerna and Mattias Ericksson. The defensive line is anchored by Aslan Zetterberg while the secondary features Darius Lewis who spent the 2019 season with the Koc Rams helping them to win the Turkish title, along with Eddie Omenad from the Potsdam Royals in the German Football League and local product Daniel Gunnarsson.

Kennedy has been happy with how his defense looks in practice.

“In practice, our defense has been very quick and aggressive. They can really fly around.”

Regardless of what happens in this “brief” season, a season that many thought was lost, Kennedy realizes how lucky this chance to play is.

“I feel very fortunate to be playing football when there are a lot of people not getting the opportunity to play. I just hope that everything goes well and we are able to have a season and play it to the end.”

Carlstad kicks the season off Saturday, August 22 against the Stockholm Mean Machines.

Full Carlstad Crusaders schedule

August 22: Carlstad Crusaders @Stockholm Mean Machines

August 29: Örebro Black Knights @Carlstad Crusaders

Sept. 4: Carlstad Crusaders @Uppsala 86ers

Sept. 11: Uppsala 86ers @Carlstad Crusaders

Sept. 19: Carlstad Crusaders @Örebro Black Knights

Sept. 26: Stockholm Mean Machines @Carlstad Crusaders

Carlstad Crusaders 2020 Roster (Click image to enlarge)

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