St. Paul overcomes Tough Start, Advances To Quarterfinals

By Jeremy McDonald

ST. PAUL, Ore.–  It’s been 15 days since St. Paul’s decisive 60-0 win over Regis to complete the perfect regular season.

But, through the rust of having a bye week, you knew that it was a matter of time before the Buckaroos knocked off that rust and found their groove against Lost River.

Entering the third quarter up 27-13, the horrors of the rust from the first half went away with the defense forcing two punts and recovering two fumbles that set up three consecutive scoring drives before the game-clock struck zero by the end of the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon.

They took to heart what their coach told them at halftime as Logan Villarreal pointed too as the senior defensive lineman recovered two fumbles in the second half to help sustain momentum soundly in St. Paul’s favor.

“Just with the momentum, Coach gave us a really hard talking at halftime saying, ‘this is not a guarantee.  Win or lose’, so that really pushed us,” said Logan Villarreal.”The oline did a good job blocking for Holden (Smith), dline did a good job.  Linebackers, cornerbacks everyone.”

Quarterback Holden Smith launches on his 60-yard strike to Jaidyn Jackson during Saturday’s win (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

They know that this season is special, and with their closest game being against Santiam 38-12 all the way in September on September 29, the now 9-0 Bucks are still as hungry as they have been since Week 1 against Heppner.

“We just look 1-0, it’s just kind of our motto, it’s 1-0 every week.  You get a win and you look onto the next one after that,” said Justin Herberger, who rushed for 148 yards and two TDs in the 46-13 win Saturday.

Now that this game’s over, it’s on to the next one.  This time, against those same Heppner Mustangs for a chance to go to the Semi-Final game two weeks from now.

Heppner wasn’t the same Week 1 team that St. Paul defeated 40-0, after starting the season 0-3, the Mustangs wheeled off six-straight wins entering this match-up that includes a 54-20 win over Neah-Kah-Nie in the opening round of the 2A Playoffs.

Once they hit the film session and start preparation for the ‘Stangs, Herberger and Villarreal points to that mentality of ‘1-0’ being the battle cry for them.  Herberger mentions them just playing Buckaroo football like they know, Villarreal adds it starts in practice with grinding and working to be better so when gameday comes, they’re set.

“Just keeping 1-0 in mind you know, it’s a big time for us right now.  I think grind is our biggest key right now,” said Villarreal.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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