St. Anthony had a chance to grab the Del Rey League title in its regular season finale at St. Paul on Friday night but instead got a helping of humble pie in a 49-7 loss.
“We learned a lot tonight,” St. Anthony Mario Morales said. “We need more consistency, especially on offense we have to make first downs. On defense we’ve got to stop big plays.”
The Saints (5-5, 3-1) will spend the last week of the regular season on a bye and enter the CIF Southern Section Division 9 playoffs as a second place team in two weeks. St. Paul (7-2, 3-0) can clinch its second consecutive outright league title by beating St. Genevieve next week.
St. Paul star Trenell Ridgley opened the game with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but St. Anthony answered on its first drive when quarterback Lucas Lehmar hit receiver Riley Jenkins on a 56-yard touchdown pass.
After the two stout defenses traded big hits and big stops, St. Paul took the lead for good on a quarterback sneak by Gene Valdez in the second quarter.
The Saints nearly tied the game again on a 4th down pass over the top to Jenkins, but it was inches away from his finger tips. Five plays later, the Swordsmen converted a 3rd down near midfield into a touchdown pass from Valdez to Angel Garcia.
St. Paul would scored again before halftime when Ridgley took it in from 18 yards out, and then fellow running back Tyler Adams all but put the game away with a 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. There was a running clock in the fourth quarter, but Morales didn’t let his team hang their heads after the game.
“I let them know that they played a great football team tonight and they competed,” Morales said. “(St. Paul) has got a few more horses in the stable than we do, but our guys weren’t afraid and they played physical all night. If we have that same attitude we’ll be fine (in the playoffs) and they know that.”
St. Anthony will find out its playoff draw on Nov. 2 at the CIFSS offices.