Cardinals have eyes on another title
TAPPS D-III Final
Friday, 7 p.m., Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco
RECORDS: Frisco Legacy 11-2; St. Paul 9-3
SHINER - December trips to Central Texas have become the norm for the Shiner St. Paul Cardinals (9-3).
As the final month of the season rolls around, the Cardinals are once again playing for a TAPPS state title, this time they take on Frisco Legacy Christian (11-2) for the TAPPS Division III crown.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. Here are five things to look for at the game.
The juniors and seniors on this team have been there and done that. This is the third straight trip to the state championship game.
"I don't think there's been another group that can say they've been in three state (championship) games," said Cardinals head coach Jake Waschmuth. "Obviously, that's something that in the future we're going to talk to our younger kids about."
St. Paul beat Colleyville Covenant Christian in the 2010 championship game and lost to Hallettsville Sacred Heart in last year's final.
"You'll never get tired of that feeling walking out there," said senior quarterback Dakota Kresta about the championship game atmosphere.
Coming into the game, the Cardinal senior class has a record of 43-9. The only year the St. Paul Class of 2013 fell short of the state title game was 2009 when Legacy Christian beat them in the playoffs.
SECOND PLACE ISN'T BAD
Either St. Paul or Legacy Christian will leave Waco with a state championship trophy. Ironically, neither team won a district championship trophy this season.
The Cardinals and the Eagles finished in second place in their respective districts during the regular season.
"That was a hard loss for our kids to take, but sometimes those things motivate you," Wachsmuth said.
St. Paul lost to TAPPS Division III, District 5 champion Sacred Heart 28-21 in the regular season. The Cardinals beat the Indians in the semifinals 49-35.
"We started playing together more and limited our turnovers," said St. Paul running back Adam Hollenbach.
Legacy Christian was blown out by TAPPS Division III, District 2 champion Covenant Christian. The Eagles avenged the loss with a 21-16 state semifinal win.
RUSHING TO STATE
The state title game will feature a pair of seasoned senior running backs in Hollenbach and Legacy Christian's Ovie Urevbu.
"As linebackers, we're definitely going to have to key on their running back," said St. Paul senior linebacker and wide receiver Dylan Barton.
Orevbu has rushed for 2,266 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. Conversely, Hollenbach has accumulated 1,920 yards and 36 touchdowns on 228 carries.
"As long as we can stop the running back, we've pretty much got it," Hollenbach said.
WHERE BECK'S AT
Even though the Eagles give the bulk of their carries to Urevbu, quarterback Adam Beck has a been able to make plays with his legs and his arm this year.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior has completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for 626 yards and 10 scores.
The only bad thread in his stat line are the six interceptions he's thrown this season.
LORD OF THE RINGS
With a win, the St. Paul Classes of 2013 and 2014 can become the first groups to win multiple state football championships in their four years at the school.
"It would mean a lot," Hollenbach said. "Especially our senior year. Going out the way we are supposed to."
The school won a Texas Christian Interscholastic League title in 1987 and won its first two TAPPS state titles in 1992 and 1997.
Hollenbach and Braton said they wear their 2010 championship rings on special occasions, while Kresta said he keeps his on his dresser to serve as motivation to win another state title.
Wachsmuth said that although the players wanted him to get a ring after helping the school break a 13-year state title drought during his first tenure as coach, he said the journey was more important than the accomplishment.
"I don't even wear my Aggie ring," Wachsmuth said. "My wife gets on me (because) I don't wear my wedding ring. It's there and I treasure it, but it's almost like a little trophy."