Crusaders find way to the top

Published August 31, 2005

Keswick Christian football coach Rick Sanson has a simple goal for his players: Be as good as you can be. Apparently, the Crusaders are good enough to be ranked No. 1 in the state. They also are the only county team ranked.

Keswick Christian, which beat Indian Rocks Christian 42-13 in last week's season opener, took over the top spot in the Florida Sports Writers Association's Class B poll. It is the first time the Crusaders have been ranked. "I'm a little shocked," Sanson said. "I had a feeling we might be ranked at some point this season, but not No. 1."

Keswick received seven of the 16 first-place votes. District rival Lakeland Evangel Christian is ranked No. 4.

This is the first season for Class B, which was created after the FHSAA board of directors approved a reclassification plan that expanded competition to eight classes, with 2A and A divided into subclasses to ease the disparity in school size. The switch benefitted Keswick, which has 210 high school students.

"We felt like we had a chance at this level," Sanson said. "But a No. 1 ranking is an awfully big target. We have to be focused and play like the top team."

The last time a county school was ranked No. 1 in the state was Shorecrest (Class A) in 1994.