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St. Paul round-up: Football team opens season with lopsided victory over Wallowa

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior Karlee Southerland is among five team captains on the St. Paul volleyball roster.

Sitting at 8-1 on the season, St. Paul volleyball is on a seven-game win streak and hasn't dropped a set since its only loss of the year so far.

The Bucks opened up the season with a 2-1 win over Salem Academy on Aug. 31 in the Mount Angel Tournament, but their undefeated run dating back to the start of the 2018 season came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Kennedy later that day.

Since that loss, St. Paul has been on a tear. The Bucks finished the Mount Angel tourney with two wins, both 2-0, over Vernonia and Portland Christian.

They followed that up with a 3-0 win over Livingstone Adventist in their first league game Sept. 5 before returning to tournament play later in the week.

St. Paul swept its games in the East-West Volleyball Classic at Heppner High School, capturing a tournament title that adds to its impressive rÉsumÉ thus far. The team knocked off Heppner, Weston-McEwen and Grant Union – all in three set sweeps.

The Bucks returned to Casco League play Monday and handled Willamette Valley Christian 3-0 as well. With and 8-1 overall record, St. Paul is 2-0 in league heading into a home game against Jewell at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Football knocking off the rust

Starting out its season on the road, St. Paul football picked up a 40-6 win over Wallowa on Friday. The Bucks were dominant on defense, but coach Tony Smith said he is hoping for some offensive improvement despite the lopsided result.

"At this point in the season, we want to be more consistent offensively than we were in that game," Smith said. "As long as we have more points than the other team, we'll be happy, but we could have been more consistent on offense. Penalties, fumbled snaps, not sustaining blocks – all of those things definitely hurt us."

Smith said senior quarterback TJ Crawford played well in the opener, as did junior running back Jaden Thompson, who ran for more than 100 yards in his first career start for the Bucks.

Senior tight end Cade Schneider and sophomore Bryce Williams played key roles in the game as well, hauling in passes from Crawford all night long.

Assuredly, Crawford and company have a giant chip on their collective shoulder entering this Friday's rematch with Dufur.

The Bucks lost a heartbreaker to Dufur in the state championship game last season, and they look forward to hosting the Rangers at the St. Paul rodeo grounds this year.

Shockingly, the Rangers are coming off a 66-8 defeat in their opening game after playing without some key players.

Smith said St. Paul has to put that result – and last year's loss – in the back of their minds and focus on themselves.

"We try to stay away from talking about that kind of stuff," Smith said. "We expect kids to go out and play hard every Friday – sometimes games are bigger and sometimes games are not as big, but we want the same effort. It's important to control your emotions and focus on the task at hand."

Dufur plays a lot like the Bucks, Smith said. The Rangers want to establish the run and work in play action where they can, grinding the opponent down with a high-powered offense.

Slowing the run game will be a primary focus, Smith said, but so will be performing under immense pressure.

Not only is Friday the ceremony for a new class of St. Paul hall of fame inductees, but KPTV Fox 12 Oregon is going to be featuring St. Paul vs. Dufur in its "Friday Night Flights" coverage of high school football. Smith said the station will even host its high school football show from the rodeo grounds that night once the game is concluded.

The lights are rarely this bright for a 1A school, but that comes with the territory for the Bucks. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the rodeo grounds.

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