NEWBURGH – At some point years ago, categorizing a performance as “same ol’ Stepinac” might’ve been a put down. No more. The Crusaders opened their season Friday night at Newburgh looking every bit as fast and ferocious as a year ago when they were CHSFL champs.

Playing without senior T.J. Morrison, one of the area’s top senior recruits, Stepinac breezed out to an early lead and throttled defending Section 9 champ Newburgh on its home turf, 31-0.

Senior Tyquell Fields threw two touchdowns and the defense smothered a Newburgh team that beat Henninger, another one of last year’s Class AA state playoff teams, 64-0 last week at the Carrier Dome. Stepinac allowed just 69 yards of offense, had five sacks and got an interception from Malik Crawford.

“I think this showed that we have young kids, but they’re ready to play,” said senior defensive end Malcolm Koonce, who had a sack.