MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – In its third-ever football season, and the fourth year since the school opened its doors, Holy Cross joined the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) athletic league.

In its previous two seasons, the Crusaders had played an independent schedule consisting of several junior varsity matchups.

Now, Holy Cross will compete in an organized district and have the opportunity to have a postseason.

“We’re very blessed to be in TAPPS. This was one of our goals, to be able to provide that for our athletes,” head coach and Athletic Director Fernando Ochoa said. “It’s a blessing for them to be able to experience what all high school kids experience in athletics.”

They make their introduction into TAPPS as a six-man Division III team. The Crusaders were placed in District 1 with Christ the King Diocesan (Lubbock), Kingdom Prep (Lubbock), Wichita Christian School (Wichita Falls) and Holy Cross Catholic Academy (Amarillo).

The team itself has strong numbers for its newness. 16 players make up the Crusader squad, including five seniors and eight freshmen. This is Holy Cross’s first season with a senior class.

Ochoa said the team will put a focus on its run game, as is usual for six-man teams, but it will also be creative and utilize some spread offensive formations to give the Crusaders a chance in the air as well.

“We’re finally to our first senior class. This is year number four so we have a great small senior class, great leadership. We have a lot of underclassmen with experience so this by far is the largest team we’ve had,” Ochoa said.

The move into TAPPS is a big step for Holy Cross, not only for the athletic department itself, but for the overall competition level.

Ochoa is cognizant of the challenge in front of the Crusaders, but sees much more positive than negative.

“The competition level like I said for us is going to be something that we’re ready for, but we also know that we’ll have our hands full with some teams that we will see down the road,” Ochoa said.

Along with the excitement of competing in a new league, Holy Cross has an exciting debut game in the TAPPS league as they open up their season close to home against cross-town rival Midland Trinity. Trinity is the only other six-man program in Midland.

“It’s exciting to have two schools in Midland, Texas. Only two six-man programs in Midland to actually start your season on Friday. So very very excited to be able to play Midland Trinity,” Ochoa said.

The Crusaders and Chargers kick off their season Friday Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity.