The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 20, 2013

Crusaders try to remain unbeaten

MIAMI, Okla. — The unbeaten Joplin Crusaders of the non-pro Central Football League go for their fifth win tonight against the visiting Northwest Arkansas Battle.

Joplin coach Dave Pitts said intensity or mental preparation wasn’t a concern even though the Crusaders are coming off an important victory against the Enid (Okla.) Enforcers.

“We’ve been playing much better on offense,” Pitts said on Friday night. “But we’ve been turning the ball over more than we should. We just can’t turn over the ball.”

The Crusaders and Battle (1-3) are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. in Fred G. Hughes Stadium at Missouri Southern State University.

The Crusaders, in their second game of the season, beat the Battle 19-6 on the Lincoln High School gridiron.

Joplin has been downright offensive since the Easter break.

The Crusaders won 37-25 on the road against the Kansas Cougars (CFL champions in 2010-11) on April 6 before hurdling the defending champion Enforcers 31-28.

“We’ve been able to run the ball and that has opened up a lot of other things,” Pitts said. “(Running backs) Kenny Session and Heath Baker have played extremely well. So have the line, quarterback Matt Thompson and (receiver) and Danny Knighten.”

Thompson, for example, completed 12 of 18 passes against the Cougars and 14 of 20 against Enid for totals of 444 yards and five touchdowns. Knighten has 12 receptions for 227 yards the last two games.

Session, out of Tulsa East Central High School and Kansas State, has rushed for nearly 300 yards in two games.

“We continue to remain healthy,” Pitts said. “It was a very physical game against Enid.”

The Battle won last week 20-19 at the Oklahoma Warriors in a game held at Okemah High School.

Jason Campbell returned two interceptions for TDs and Lane Florquist completed 11 of 18 passes for 158 yards. Defensively, the Battle received 18 total tackles from end Wayne Hall and 14 from linebacker Torey Garrison.

“We’ve been playing this team for years (several players were members of the Washington County Warriors),” Pitts said of the rivalry. “Anything can happen in this league.”

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