By Camden McFarland
After shutting down the defending state champions last week, the St. Paul Indians football team came out fired up and ready to make history last night as they faced the Burlingame Bearcats in the 8-Man Division I Sub-State game.
This game was destined from the start to be a battle of revenge for the Indians after Burlingame defeated them 58-12 last year in the second round of playoffs.
To start off the game, St. Paul received the opening kickoff but struggled to make their way downfield and was forced to punt.
Burlingame wasted no time finding their way into the end zone after gaining possession and scored with 8:17 left in the first quarter. The Indians prevented Burlingame from scoring the two-point conversion to bring the score to 6-0.
St. Paul answered with a strong drive up the field but was forced to turn over on downs.
The Bearcats found a way to score a second time in the first quarter to bring the score to 12-0 after another denied two-point conversion.
As the second quarter progressed, St. Paul began to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball.
On offense, St. Paul fought their way into the end zone with less than five minutes left in the half after quarterback Braven Born fired a pass to Caleb Pecha, who then dashed past defenders into the end zone. After a completed two-point conversion the score was brought to 12-8.
St. Paul’s defense denied Burlingame progression up the field and ended the first half trailing by only four.
Things became increasingly interesting in the second half as both teams came out eager to take the game.
After receiving the kickoff, Burlingame scored with only 45 seconds off the clock, bringing the score to 18-8.
However, the Indians refused to lie down and quickly responded less than a minute later with a 60-yard run by Born into the end zone to bring the score to 18-14.
With fire in their eyes, St. Paul fought into the end zone again with a strong run by Pecha to take the lead with a score of 18-20.
Unfortunately, the Indians’ defense began to lose their grip on Burlingame and allowed them to score twice more before the end of the third quarter.
This loss of focus was short-lived, though, as the Indians came out in the fourth quarter and began dominating the field all around.
Pecha scored a third time on the Indians’ first possession of the fourth quarter to cut the score to 34-28.
After forcing Burlingame to punt, St. Paul tied the game up after Born connected with Adam Albertini on a pass into the end zone.
The Indians regained possession after forcing Burlingame to turn over on downs and Albertini rushed 40 yards down the field before being tackled just shy of the end zone. Born then rushed in to capitalize on the drive, bringing the score to 40-34.
With 1:08 left on the clock, Pecha made a star appearance on defense with a timely interception to bring the ball back into St. Paul’s hands.
To eliminate any chance of mishap, the Indians’ Alejandro Maté completed a field goal to bring the final score to 43-34, rightfully earning St. Paul the title of 8-Man Division I Sub-State Champions.
From the start of this season the Indians were determined to build off their playoff performance in 2016. St. Paul has far surpassed the preceding season’s performance and will now be headed to the 8-Man Division I State Championship game for the first time since 2002.
The championship game will take place Saturday, Nov. 25, at 11 a.m. in Newton.
Hoxie will be entering the game with a record of 11-1 after defeating the Spearville Lancers 44-20 last night. Key players of Hoxie include running back Latham Schwarz, who has averaged 115.9 rushing yards per game and has 28 touchdowns, and receiver Taylor Burris, who has a total of 305 receiving yards and five touchdowns.