ST. PAUL — One down for the St. Paul Indians.
Behind three interceptions and another electric showing from a hobbled Adam Albertini, undefeated St. Paul routed the Hartford Jaguars 64-0 in the first round of the KSHSAA 8-Man II playoffs on Thursday night. The win marks the fourth year in a row St. Paul has won at least one playoff game and keeping the Indians’ record unblemished at 9-0.
“These boys have waited for now,” St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak said. “They wished the playoffs started in Week 1.”
St. Paul’s defense was the prevailing storyline on Thursday night. The Indians hauled in five interceptions, three of which were taken back for touchdowns, while keeping the Jaguars off the scoreboard.
“The boys came ready to play tonight,” Wiatrak said. “Hartford throws the ball a bunch and averaged 35 points per game. So I challenged our defense. We hadn’t played well since West Elk.”
Chandler Bradshaw accounted for three interceptions with one taken to the house while Albertini and Hayden Smith both had pick-sixes.
“The scouting report on us, I hear, is that we can’t cover the pass,” Wiatrak said. “But our defensive backs played well tonight. Our guys were fighting for interceptions. It was very impressive.”
Albertini, arguably the most electric running back in the 8-Man ranks, rushed for 116 yards on just four carries while also passing for 67 yards. The senior came into the game dealing with a bruised knee injury. As St. Paul ran away with the game, Wiatrak was able to mitigate Albertini’s playing time.
“Adam needs to get that knee healed up,” Wiatrak said. “But man, he was explosive and fun to watch tonight. We’ll get three days off here, and that’l help. The knee is just bruised, and Adam is as tough as it gets. He’s worked his career for these playoffs and shined tonight.”
Easton Dent added three rushing touchdowns with 66 yards on the ground on six carries.
St. Paul will now play Waverly next week in the second round, with the game again set to take place in St. Paul.
“Waverly plays a very tough schedule,” Wiatrak said. “They’re a solid team. We just have to keep raising up our game.”
Wiatrak is perhaps most excited to have a full roster potentially available for the first time this season next week.
“We have 15 kids on our team, and not once this year have we had 15 guys on the sideline,” Wiatrak said. “I’m hoping everybody is healthy next week and we can be at full strength.”
The Indians, who played for a state championship two years ago, are projected to make another run this fall.
“I’m expecting a deep playoff run,” Wiatrak said. “It’s up to the seniors. We’ll go as far as they take us.”
KSHSAA 8-Man I Playoffs
St. Paul 64, Hartford 0
SP: Easton Dent 22-yd run
SP: Adam Albertini 48-yd run
SP: Albertini 40-yd punt return
SP: Albertini 60-yd run
SP: Hayden Smith 34-yd interception return
SP: Dent 33-yd run
SP: Albertini 40-yd interception return
SP: Dent 5-yd run
SP: Chandler Bradshaw 31-yd interception return