The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 26, 2013

Crusaders get new opponent for Cowboys Stadium game

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— The Joplin Crusaders will have a different opponent than first announced in tonight’s Summer Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 between Joplin and the Dallas-Fort Worth Eagles.

But, really, does it matter whether the non-pro Central Football League champion Crusaders are playing the Eagles or the North Texas Stampede?

Obviously, the Crusaders want to win. It would make them 12-0 and keep alive their hopes for a No. 1 ranking in their division. Minor League Football News Today has the Boise (Idaho) Generals No. 1 and Crusaders No. 2.

But there’s more to this game than a win or a loss.

Said Joplin offensive coordinator Brenden Gubera: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime for our players to play in Cowboys Stadium. It’s a nice reward at the end of a good season.”

Crusader spokesman Sam Sturgis said the Eagles basically are a new team formed to play in the fall.

“They’re classified as Triple A just like the North Texas Stampede,” Sturgis said. “We’re Double A.

“The rankings could change,” Sturgis said. “A victory definitely could help.”

Sturgis, also a receiver for the Crusaders, said from a player’s perspective the Eagles have to be ‘decent’ to be classified in Triple A.

Said Joplin head coach Dave Pitts: “We realize the Eagles, a totally different team from the Stampede, could basically be an all-star team.

“We know their four down linemen on defense are very good.” Pitts, also Joplin defensive coordinator, said. “They were members of a championship team.

“We know the Eagles’ coaching staff is intact (from another team) and we’ve seen film of their other team,” Pitts said. “They look a little like Enid in what they do on offense.”

Joplin defeated Enid 21-7 on June 15 to claim the postseason CFL championship.

“We hear, too, they (the Eagles) will have a talented, quick quarterback,” Pitts said. “We hear he a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder — a runner with throwing ability. We faced that type of athlete against the Enforcers (Enid).”

Added Gubera: “It’s a cliche, but we need to execute. We’ll be OK if we execute from our point of attack.”

Most of the Joplin entourage was scheduled to arrive at the Comfort Suites in Arlington at about 11 p.m. on Friday. Practice and a tour of the stadium were among the items on today’s agenda.