Buckaroos bring in a haul of all-league honors
With top-four finishes by both the football and volleyball teams, St. Paul had its best fall season in the 2A classification in 2017.
That was evident when Tri-River Conference coaches selected this year's all-league teams, especially in football, where the Buckaroos swept all three major awards and placed 12 players on the first team.
The hard part for those coaches was probably selecting the offensive player of the year, as St. Paul had four viable candidates in running backs Justin Herberger and Saul Martinez, quarterback Holden Smith and wide receiver Jaidyn Jackson.
Martinez led the Bucks with 1,595 rushing yards and was second on the team in yards from scrimmage (1,627) and total touchdowns (18), while Herberger rushed for 1,446 yards and led the Bucks with 1,793 yards from scrimmage and 26 total touchdowns.
Jackson was St. Paul's biggest weapon in the passing game, hauling in 36 catches for 796 yards and 15 touchdowns, which accounted for about half of Smith's passing numbers, which came in at 1,456 yards and 25 touchdown passes.
Tony Smith, who was also named league coach of the year, said statistically all four had a pretty similar impact on St. Paul's games, but in the end the league coaches opted for the quarterback, who also happens to be his son.
"I am proud of him as a dad, but also as a coach," Smith said. "I am with a lot of the kids. I think there are a lot of kids that fall into that same category of being willing to work hard and dedicate yourself to something, over time you can really improve."
Joining the foursome on the first team offense were linemen Zach Brentano and Alex Dela Cerda, as well as tight end Campbell Smith.
Lineman Aidan Kirsh made the second team, with running back T.J. Crawford and lineman Alfonso Orobio earning honorable mention.
Leading the way on the other side of the ball was Herberger, who made 86 tackles as a linebacker and was named defensive player of the year.
"He's a three-year starter there," Tony Smith said. "I think that's huge any time you get a kid with that kind of experience. His ability to play the pass and the run was key. He's aggressive when he needs to be, a very sure tackler. He did a bunch of really good things."
Jackson was also named a first-team defensive back after intercepting 12 passes, which ties him for second all-time for a single 11-man season in the state.
Joining the two dynamic juniors on the first team were Brentano as a linebacker and lineman Dela Cerda and Martinez.
Campbell Smith was named a second-team linebacker, with Rawley Koch also earning second-team honors as a defensive back. Lineman Chris Kelly and defensive back Mitch Curtis were named honorable mention.
The St. Paul volleyball team placed third in the Tri-River Conference this year and fourth in state and was also well-represented on the all-league teams.
Senior outside hitter Logan Robinson was named co-player of the year along with senior setter Makenna Northern of regular season champion Central Linn.
Senior setter Marley Martinez was also named to the all-league first team, with sophomore outside hitter Isbelle Wyss and junior libero Emma Connor making the second team.