FOURTEEN and ZERO! OSAA 1A STATE CHAMPIONS! Big and bold, the St. Paul Buckaroos stamped their mark in Oregon high school football history with a perfect season of fourteen wins and zero losses. For the season, the Bucks scored a whopping 796 total points against opponents while yielding 334. On Saturday December 5th, the Buckaroos' fourteenth win of the season earned them the OSAA 1A Football Championship state title with a 38-34 win over Imbler. Ryan Pierson was an offensive force for St. Paul as he tallied five touchdowns and rushed for 384 of his team's 398 total yards on the ground. Matt Gooding also scored for St. Paul and quarterback Daley Smith completed four out of seven passes for 60 yards in the air.
After trailing 26-14 at halftime, Imbler was able to pull within four points when quarterback Bryan Mills ran for a seven yard TD with 1:08 left in the game, but the Panthers could not pull off the onside kick letting St. Paul run out the final seconds of the game. Other scorers for Imbler were Jace Eisiminger, Zack Phillips and Wesley Burgess who got into the endzone twice. Burgess led his team with 129 yards on the ground and 74 receiving. Quarterback Bryan Mills threw 16 passes, completing five for 144 yards and one touchdown.
It's a common claim in sports...defense wins games! When St. Paul battled a talented team from Mohawk (located in northeastern Oregon) in the OSAA 1A Football Championship semi-final game at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, the honor to compete for the State Championship went to St. Paul as a defensive stand successfully thwarted a two point conversion attempt by Mohawk late in the fourth quarter, giving the Buckaroos a 32-30 victory. The two teams literally traded touchdowns throughout the game as St. Paul struck first in the opening quarter on a 46 yard pass reception by Ryan Pierson with 1:43 left on the clock. Mohawk wasted no time evening up the score when Matt York tapped a 55 yard drive in less than a minute to equalize at 8-8 as each team were successful with the two-point conversions. As time ran out in the first quarter Pierson scored his second of three touchdowns on the day with a 64 yard run.
In the second quarter, on cue, Mohawk tied the score again when Matt York closed out a 75 yard drive in 4 plays with a 6 yard touchdown. With that, St. Paul returned the favor to close out the first half with a 24-16 lead as Pierson scored his third TD with a 38 yard run with 6:10 remaining in the second quarter. Dillon Tuyls scored the only touchdown in the third quarter to once again level the game at 24-24 with a 9 yard run, plus a conversion by Matt York. St. Paul went into the lead for the last time at 11:10 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Daley Smith ran for a three yard touchdown and completed a pass to David Furguson for the conversion making the score 32-24.
To finish out the trading of touchdowns, Mohawk marched 72 yards in 13 plays to score on a Cord Wilkins two yard run to set up a chance to tie the game with the two-point conversion. Mohawk quarterback Cord Wilkins rolled right and sent a high pass to Anthony Wallace in the corner of the end-zone, but St. Paul's Ryan Pierson's coverage was just enough to disrupt the play and preventing the catch to tie the game. The Buckaroos were able to hold off one last Mohawk drive in the final minute as their defense played a major role in their 32-30 win to go on for the OSAA 1A Football Championship game the following week at Hillsboro Stadium.
I am not the biggest football fan. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy football...I'm just not fanatical about it. However, I love Oregon 1A high school football. Eight man football! It's a wide open game played in the purest element of high school sports. I try to get out to St. Paul, Oregon at least once a year to shoot the St. Paul Buckaroos on their home field...the St. Paul Rodeo Arena.
I have blogged previously about St. Paul football and their very unique home field...a 10,000 seat stadium that host the world famous St. Paul Rodeo on the Fourth of July, but is converted to a football field courtesy of the local Willamette Valley Grass Seed Growers who donate seed and labor to plant a grass football field in the arena in time for football each Fall. Understand...there are only 85 students in the high school at St. Paul and 354 folks in the entire town. Here's a link to one of my previous blog stories about St. Paul Football.
The Buckaroos hosted the Perrydale Pirates on October 16th to determine which of the two teams was to going to take sole possession of first place in the Casco League standings as both teams entered the contest with a 6-0 record. St. Paul got out to a two touchdown lead heading into half-time and was able to hold off the Pirates as they battled back into the game in the second half. The No. 2 ranked Buckaroos kept a lead over the No. 3 ranked Pirates throughout the final two quarters to claim a 34-24 homecoming victory.