ST. PAUL — The St. Paul Indians, still perfect on the season at 9-0, are seeking a berth into the 8-Man II quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row on Saturday. Standing in their way are the Waverly Bulldogs, who will travel to St. Paul for a Friday night playoff matchup.
The Indians are coming off a runaway 64-0 win over Hartford in the first round. St. Paul tallied five interceptions and the game was over by halftime.
“Anytime you get a playoff win, that’s momentum moving in the right direction,” St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak said. “It doesn’t matter who you play. You don’t overlook anybody. If you win, you start over on Monday.”
As for Waverly, the Bulldogs trounced Marmaton Valley 64-13 in the first round. Waverly enters Friday night’s game with a 6-3 overall record and riding a four-game winning streak. The Bulldogs also have their own 62-20 win over Hartford on Oct. 18.
“They’re fundamentally sound with a good quarterback that’s left-handed,” Wiatrak said. “He’s fast and can throw well on the run. They don’t have a main receiver, but they distribute the ball very well. Waverly is basic when it comes to their option game. They’ve run it for years and do it very well. They’ll also move people in motion to get you out of position.”
St. Paul’s defense has been among the most formidable in the state, allowing just 76 points all year and posting two shutouts over the last three games.
“Everybody is trying to find ways to score on us,” Wiatrak said. “We’ve seen the double reverses. We’ve seen everything this year. I don’t know if we’ve seen it for several weeks by a quality team. So it’ll be a little different of an explosive factor this week. But Waverly has a bag of tricks and they’ll probably use them all on Friday night.”
Offensively, St. Paul continues to be led by workhorse superstar Adam Albertini. The senior tailback has 34 touchdowns and 1,401 rushing yards on 81 carries — he scores a touchdown on 42% of his carries.
Albertini has been dealing with a knee injury the previous two weeks despite playing, though Wiatrak doesn’t expect it to be a factor against Waverly.
“I’m not a doctor,” Wiatrak said, “but I know it won’t affect his playing this week.”
Perhaps more importantly for St. Paul, the entire roster will be healthy and available for the Indians for the very first time this season. All 15 players will suit up in Friday’s second round tilt.
“It gives us our offensive line back at full strength,” Wiatrak said. “I’m not sure we’ve had that all year but for one or two series. Being healthy gives us momentum.”
St. Paul is expected to be one of the contenders to make a deep run into the 8-Man II playoffs. The Indians played for a state championship two years ago and made the quarterfinals last season. So Friday night is familiar territory.
“These seniors have been to the final eight at least every year they’ve been in high school,” Wiatrak said. “So they know what it’s all about. They know what’s at stake on Friday night. If you’re in the final eight, you’re one of the top programs in the state. That’s where we want to maintain ourselves.”
Kickoff between St. Paul and Waverly is set for 7 p.m. at St. Paul.