The St. Francis Saints used a combination of devilish playcalling and taking advantage of Bluejacket mistakes to reclaim the “Battle for the Paddle” via a 35-34 overtime win.
St. Francis started the game with two successful onside kicks in a row and converted a Cambridge-Isanti fumble into a touchdown and two field goals for a 13-0 lead early into the second quarter. But that’s when C-I’s offense finally got going, scoring three straight touchdowns in the second quarter to take a seemingly comfortable 22-13 lead into halftime. The scores were made by Ryley Nelson and Gaven Ziebarth on the ground and Kaden Slepica on a pass from Brody Nelson as time ran out at halftime.
And when Slepica added another touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter, it appeared to almost everyone in attendance that the paddle trophy was staying put. But that’s when St. Francis pulled out two straight touchdowns and one two-point conversion to knot the score at 28-28 and sending the game into the thrilling overtime.
Having won the coin toss, the Jackets chose to go on defense first, hoping to stop the Saints cold. However, the Saints pulled off a touchdown pass on fourth and goal from the four and tacked on the extra point to take a 35-28 lead.
A holding penalty during the Jackets’ offensive drive backed C-I up to the 16-yard line, but Brody Nelson completed the next pass to London Williams for a touchdown. Jacket head coach Shane Weibel opted to go for two, meaning one play would determine the winner. The Jackets dug deep into their playbook for a “Wildcat” formation, directly snapping the ball to Slepica. Unfortunately, half the St. Francis team keyed on the senior runningback, stringing out the play and knocking Slepica out of bounds short of the end zone to seal the St. Francis victory.
The loss means the Jackets would have had to upset the #1 QRF ranked Elk River Elks on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and hoped for a Coon Rapids and possibly Andover loss to secure a bye in the first round of the Section 7AAAAA playoffs. A loss to the Elks and wins by Andover and Duluth East might even send the Jackets on the road for the first round on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Girls swimming and diving
The Jackets fell to STMA in a conference meet last week by a score of 103.5-80.5. Kendra Fanth and Payton Larkin were the lone first-place finishers for the Jackets, with both coming up with double wins. Fanth took first in the 200 and 500 freestyle, and Larkin did the same in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, the Jackets hosted their annual Bluejacket Invite, taking third out of six teams in the meet. Kaia Kirkeide took first in diving, and Fanth took first in the 500 free as C-I’s top finishers in the invite.
The Bluejackets finished up their home regular season with another 3-0 sweep, this time by Monticello. The Jackets ended their regular season as a whole with a 3-1 loss at Buffalo.
It has been a rough season for the Jackets, with their only wins coming during tournament matches. In non-tournament matches, the Jackets were only able to avoid being swept three times all season.
Boys and girls cross country
The Jackets will be making the Princeton golf course their “home away from home,” competing in three meets there over a two-week period. The first of these meets was held on Thursday, Oct. 11, after being postponed due to cold, rainy weather.
The Bluejacket boys team came in fourth in this first meet, with Henry Abraham picking up the top time, coming in 13th. For the girls, Jordan Merwin picked up a sixth-place finish, leading the Jackets to the same fourth-place team finish.
The second race at Princeton was the Mississippi 8 conference meet, held on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The final race will be the Section 7AA meet on Thursday, Oct. 25.