By Jeremy McDonald
HERMINSTON, Ore.—Think about it, for Seniors like a Mitch Curtis, TJ Crawford or Saul Martinez, being in the playoffs this late in the year has become an expectation.
Their sophomore year, St. Paul were semi-finalist in 2A and were State Finalist their Junior and now Senior seasons.
“It’s something cool to think about years later, we’ll be amazed of our own acomplishments. That comes from coaching, that comes from tradition,” said TJ Crawford. “It comes from the athletes that we have come through St. Paul. Our pride, doing our best every single year. Doing just that.”
Crawford, as he did in the Semi-Final game against Camas Valley, had put his team on his back once more.
While rushing for 169 yards with a touchdown, he got his teammates involved in the passing game while the Buckaroos built a ten-point lead on Adrian/Jordan Valley following Saul Martinez’ second touchdown of the game.
It was 32-22 with 7:51 remaining in the game in favor of St. Paul. But with the loss of offensive linemen Steve Coppola on their final scoring possession of the game to a leg injury had put further pressure on the Bucks for the remainder of the game.
But it wasn’t something for them to dwell on as they went to work trying to win their first State Title since 2010 on this Saturday afternoon.
“As coach said, we don’t make excuses and we went through it all year,” said Crawford. “Those guys being banged up, it shouldn’t be an excuse of how this game went. We did everything we could and I knew everyone put everything they could out there. It was one helluva game.”
The Antelope clawed and battled back into the game, eventually taking the lead 38-32 with 1:39 left. In 8-man football, that’s plenty of time to make magic happen.
Momentum wasn’t on their side, but they battled as Adrian/Jordan Valley batted down and prevented St. Paul from airing it out in an attempt to win the game as 1A had their first new champion in five-years in the Antelope.
Martinez finished with 25 yards with his two touchdowns. Curtis finished with 33 yards on three carries with a touchdown on the ground and nine tackles defensively. Gianni Grasso had a kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter and Reed Overfield led the Bucks defense with a game-high 16 tackles as St. Paul ends the season 12-1 with an 1A second-place finish.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald