Carlstad Crusaders is a Swedish American football team, based in Karlstad. The club was founded in 1991, and since then has been in the national finals twelve times, and became Swedish champion five times. The team won the EFAF Cup in 2003.
Club was wonded as Forshaga Crusaders, but move to Carlstad so it could have own traing ground, and soon became member of SAFF. In 1992, team participated for the first time in an official league (Division 2 West). Crusaders finished second, so they had to play qualifiers for a place in next season’s Division 1. Qualifying match against Norrkoping Panthers were held in Carlstad and after a slow start, the Crusaders managed to win and, already in their first “full-year”, qualifed for the first division.
Already in 1993, Crusaders were second in the league, just as next year, when they lost to the Dukes in the finals. They moved to Division 1 Nora, and were six. But, U-19 championship begun and Crusaders’ unbeaten run annoucned that club has quite good future. And, that proved correct in forthcoming years. Their 1996 started with victory in the Copper Bowl, an indoor tournament in Falun, but it was not until 1998 until they participated for the first time in “Super Series”, or Superleague, as other Europens like to say. They’ve finished for, but their target for next, 1999, was national finals. But, despite second place in regular season, home loss against Orebro in the semi-finals postponed that dream. And, everything repeated in 2000, and 2001, and finally, in 2002, they’ve played for the title, but lost to Stockholm Mean Machines. Still, their U16 team won national championships, and U19 team won the third straight SM-gold.
In 2003 Crusaders won the EFAF Cup in front of 5,000 spectators in Austria, and the regular season in the Super Series but lost their second national finals in a row, this time against Arlanda Jets. Next year, for the first time Carlstad took part in Euro Bow, even defeated eventual winners, Vienna Vikings, they’ve finished the season without trophies, as in Swedish Super Series their third straight loss in the finals came from Mean Machines, after score was 0-0 at the end of fourth quarter.
In 2005, it was same teams and same ending of Swedish championship, as Crusaders also lost semi-final of EFAF Cup, away to French Elen Court Templiers. But, it was another heartbreaking loss, not that in 2006 finals, that shaped this team. In 2007, against Limhamn Griffin, Crusaders scored a touchdown 46 seconds before the end of the 4th quarter to claim 6-3 lead, but the title slipped away from their own hands, as rival forced overime with field-goal, and then won the trophy in it.
After semi-final loss in 2008, titile slipped from their hands in 2009, despite team was unbeaten in Super Series, with 49 points per game, but it was 20-24 to Mean Machines in the championship match. Still, in 2010. trophy was Crusaders’. With Adam Pumill as head coach, and American duo from Lafayette College, Rob Curley (QB) and Mark Leggiero (LB), Carsltad won Swedish Super Series with 37-15 victory over Tyreso Royal Crowns, and played in EFAF cup final, also, but lost 17-3 against Calanda Broncos in rainy weather in Switzerland.
Title in Sweden was defended with Tracey Gere as new head coach, it was 20-7 in finals against same opponent, and in 2012, it was 24-0 in the finals, once again Royal Crowns.
Fourth consecutive title came in 2013, with Doug Adkins as head coach, and this time Orebro Black Knights were the rival, with 47-25 results for Crusaders in front of 4,000 people at the stands, and app. 25,000 in front of TVs. Next year, Matthew Adkins followed his father’s footsteps and became HC for Crusaders. New on the coach side was also Drew Nobles (DC / DB), Andy Wennberg (DL) and Kari Turpeinen (LB). That season’s mantra was “Drive for Five” as club aimed to be the first team ever to win five straight championships. The team had two American import players, Brett Koepp (RB) and Jack Moro (DB). Two European imports, Daniel Stadler (DL) and Harry Routledge (WR) are also in the team. After club’s premier in IFAF Europe Champions League, where they defeated Danish champions Copenhagen Towers 34-24, and then lost to eventual champions Helsinki Roosters (30-42), Crusaders finished their unbeaten season in Sweden by defeating Orebro Black Knights 49-9, and their impressive season was documented not just by the trophy, as they broke Swedish record with 58.5 points per game.
Carlstad Crusaders were in national finals twelve times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014) and became Swedish champions five times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). The team won the EFAF Cup in 2003.
“It is extremely interesting to meet three other high profile teams from the best countries in Europe and this is a way for our club to see how we stand compared to the rest of the top teams in Europe. Our goal is always to win all games we play and last year we almost qualified for F4. The team that we barely lost against in the last group game qualified for F4 and later became Champions League champions. Our goal is to repeat their success this year“, said head coach Malik Jackson.