ST. PAUL — A study of St. Paul’s schedule showed that Friday night’s home opener against West Elk was likely the toughest game through the regular season for the Indians. Both teams entered the game 2-0 and the showdown had the makings of the state’s best 8-Man contest.
St. Paul didn’t get that message. Instead, the narrative was an old-fashioned blowout as St. Paul decimated West Elk 52-6 with the game ending in the third quarter to the mercy rule.
“We came out and played football the way we’re capable of,” St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak said. “It’s the first time this year we really played good football. We played downhill and our offensive line came out with a mission to prove they were good. Easton (Dent) and Adam (Albertini) had a field day as well. They’re both game-breakers.”
Albertini, who had tallied over 500 yards rushing through the first two games of the season, amassed 218 yards rushing with five touchdowns on 16 carries against the Patriots. The senior superstar also completed 2-of-3 passes with a touchdown and returned an interception 67 yards to the house at the end of the first half.
Putting the cherry on top of Albertini’s performance was the presence of Pittsburg State running backs coach John Pierce in the crowd, who was there to scout.
“He’s always looking for the hole,” Wiatrak said. “You’re not going to bring him down arm-tackling him. So if we get our hats on guys, he can get his shoulder pads turned in and head upfield. There’s not many guys in this state like him. I know we play 8-Man football. But when a Pitt State coach is over there watching him tonight, you know he’s a special talent. We’ve got the best running back in 8-Man football.”
As a team, St. Paul totaled 318 yards of total offense. Wiatrak credited the play of his offensive line, which was without two starters in Gib Carter and Ivan Murrillo on Friday night. Austin O’Hara, a sophomore offensive lineman that was in the reserves for the first two weeks, was called up to active duty and got the start in the trenches.
“Our offensive line blocked as well tonight as we’ve blocked in a while,” Wiatrak said. “It was fun to watch.”
St. Paul’s defense also smothered West Elk, which was headed by two playmakers in running back Nic Moreno and quarterback Devin Loudermik. The Patriots had just one first down in the first quarter while Moreno accounted for West Elk’s only touchdown on a run in the second period.
“Our defense was smothering in that first quarter,” Wiatrak said. “We were hitting hard and tackling well. West Elk is a physical football team that has two good athletes in the backfield. But our boys came and showed out tonight.”
Easton Dent had a receiving touchdown for the Indians to go along with 37 yards rushing on four carries.
With the win, St. Paul improves to 3-0 on the season with its toughest task of the regular season in the rearview mirror. But don’t expect Wiatrak to take his foot off the gas pedal.
“There’s always things we can work on,” Wiatrak said. “We’ll find two solid positives in game film on Monday and we’ll also find a negative. I’m always going to say a negative is tackling because you can’t win state championships if you can’t tackle. Good teams know how to tackle.”
St. Paul will face Colony-Crest at home in the second game of a three-game homestead next week.
“The number one thing is keeping healthy throughout the season,” Wiatrak said. “We only have 15 guys out. We have to stay healthy. Tonight wasn’t the night, though, to call the dogs off. There will be games down the road to get the freshmen and sophomores in the game.”
St. Paul 52, West Elk 6
St. Paul: 16 22 14 X — 52
West Elk: 0 6 0 X — 6
SP: Adam Albertini 32-yd run, 8:10, 8-0
SP: Albertini 13-yd pass to Easton Dent, 3:04, 16-0
SP: Albertini 22-yd run, 11:08, 24-0
SP: Albertini 39-yd run, 5:52, 30-0
WE: Nic Moreno 37-yd run, 3:39, 30-6
SP: Albertini 67-yd interception return, 0:02, 38-6
SP: Albertini 14-yd run, 11:15, 46-6
SP: Albertini 7-yd run, 3:52, 52-6