The St. Mary's football team may have had to end its season early last year as injuries depleted the program, but the last-standing members of the embattled squad weren't ready to call it quits.

The St. Mary's football team may have had to end its season early last year as injuries depleted the program, but the last-standing members of the embattled squad weren't ready to call it quits.

The Crusaders — without a game to prepare for after their last four contests were cancelled — continued to show up for practices, preparing and training simply because they wanted to.

That sort of effort and passion gives an accurate snapshot of who his team is, says second-year head coach Jamie Young, a former linebacker at UC Davis.

"I felt like I owed it to those kids," says Young, whose team went 2-4 before having to forfeit the remaining games on the schedule. "They had done everything I had asked them to do. They battled hard and they wanted to finish the season when we normally would."

And now St. Mary's has a fresh, clean slate.

Several hard-working members of last year's squad are back and are gearing up for an independent schedule. The Crusaders open the season at Glendale.

"I think the schedule has a good mix of schools," says Young, 46. "It's the right schedule for us. ... But we are still at that place where we don't have a lot of depth."

The Crusaders took an early blow when junior Dan Seus, the team's starting quarterback and free safety, broke his wrist. Filling in for Seus — who will miss at least the first three games of the season — will be Jake Isola, a junior. Young says a likely scenario may be to move Isola to the wing back position upon Seus' return.

St. Mary's, which has three seniors, will prominently use a single-wing formation. Junior Glenn Alvarez, transfer Anthony Bonsi and Duncan O'Boyle provide the Crusaders some offensive punch.

"It fits our kids," Young says of his offense. "I think it puts our guys in good spots."

Other top returners include Conner Engle (senior offensive lineman/linebacker), Dan Leavens (junior center/defensive lineman) and Cody Freel (senior tight end/defensive end).

Other notable players include running back Anthony Bonsi and Calvin Roberts, who started defensively last season.

"We are going to work hard," Young says. "I've got a good group of kids who are working their butts off."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com