Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders Post First Win Under New Head Coach

[tps_title]Crusaders overcome turmoil to capture third win of the season[/tps_title]

The Carlstad Crusaders soundly beat the host Limhamn Griffins 41-14 on the weekend and everyone in “Crusaderland” breathed a sigh of relief. The “Crusader train” was back on track. This was the first game under new head coach Malik Jackson, who was assisted by last year’s head coach Matt Adkins, who has stepped in as offensive coordinator temporarily before his US college season gets underway. Jackson took over from Duke Iverson who was let go as head coach last week after only two games.

Sweden - Crusaders v Griffins

After only scoring 14 points last week against Uppsala, the defending champions were under the gun to produce so they simply reverted to last year’s playbook, which everyone was familiar with, and returned to the running game. Powerhouse running back Brett Koepp, who had did not play in last week’s game due to injury, returned with a vengeance pacing the Crusaders with four touchdowns.

Carlstad quarterback Anders Hermodsson:

“Having Brett Koepp was huge for us. He scored four touchdowns and injected positive energy into the other players. Other teams have to keep him under check for the entire game but this one was maybe his best game as a Crusader, right when we needed it.”

The home team Griffins did a decent job in the first half keeping pace with Carlstad who beat them last year 69-7. They drove down to the Crusaders one yard line three times only to come up empty handed each time.

“We played really well in the first half and had our chances to score. But as the game wore on their depth made a difference. Their backups are almost as good as their starters,” said Johan Vajnlie from the Griffins organization.

Jackson happy with head coaching debut

Sweden - Carlstad - Malik Jackson

Malik Jackson became a head coach in the worst way any coach could imagine. He took over from his predecessor two games into the new season. He had barely gotten to know the departed Duke Iverson and was not comfortable filling his shoes this way.

However, the team needed a leader and he was the best candidate so he suddenly found himself bumped up to head coach from defensive coordinator last week, with only a couple of days to prepare for the weekend’s game against the Limhamn Griffins.

“I have to admit, I was caught a little by surprise and was scrambling. I am a defensive guy so when the club managed to bring in Matt Adkins to the staff, if only temporarily, it was an enormous boost. He knows the offense and the players and they know him and his system.

The team came together well and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

The 43 year old Jackson came to Carlstad from De Anza College in California where he served as defensive coordinator. His background includes a successful stint at City College of San Francisco where as defensive secondary and special teams coach he helped the team win the junior college national championship four times since 2001.

The game between Carlstad and the Kristianstad Predators on June 6 will be interesting as  Jackson and Predator head coach Jon Walker coached against each other in the California junior college ranks.

With excerpts from Värmlands Folkblad and Sydsvenskan.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.