Three out of the four years they have been on the St. Paul’s campus, the current senior class for the Wolves have been district champions.
One thing they haven’t done though is win a playoff game.
Quarterback Kenny Sears and the rest of his teammates hope to change that on Friday night.
The fourth-seeded team in the Division I playoffs, St. Paul’s (9-1) welcomes perennial powerhouse and No. 5 John Curtis (7-2) to Hunter Stadium.
The winner of John Curtis-St. Paul’s takes on the winner of top-ranked Rummel and No. 8 Jesuit in the state semifinals next week.
“The biggest thing we worked on was being the most prepared we could be to go up against a really good John Curtis team,” Sears said. “It’s John Curtis, though. As a program, they have earned a tremendous amount of respect. We are going to come out on Friday night and see what happens.”
Led by senior Devon Benn (904 yards rushing on 127 carries and 13 touchdowns), Sears said he knows the game against the Patriots will be won or lost on the line of scrimmage.
“No doubt,” he said. “It is going to be a physical game and a battle. I have the utmost confidence that our defense is going to be prepared. They always are. Offensively, we know we may not see the field that much, so when we do, we know we are going to have to score points.”
The leader of a potent St. Paul’s offensive attack, Sears has thrown for more than 2,000 yards on 186-of-295 passes and 23 touchdowns on the season.
Sophomore Corey Williamson has also brought balance to the Wolves’ offensive attack, rushing for 1,135 yards on 174 carries and 17 touchdowns.
“I know we are the higher seeded team,” Sears said. “Technically, I guess you could say we are the favorite, but we know we are playing John Curtis. It doesn’t matter they lost to Jesuit in the state championship game last year. We know they fully expect to play in state championship games every single season. We know we are going to have to play a really good game to beat them.
“Since our freshman year, this senior class has pointed to this moment coming on Friday night. We said we have to win a playoff game for this program. If we can get past this one, then we are definitely going to have some momentum for the future of this program.”
Legendary Patriots coach J.T. Curtis’ squad, meanwhile, knows if it is to return to the state championship game again this year, it must first get past a quality St. Paul’s squad.
“It is going to be an interesting game,” Curtis said. “One, because we haven’t played a game in two weeks. We have a great deal of respect for St. Paul’s. We scrimmaged them in the preseason and were impressed with them. They have a great quarterback who executes their offense well. That is why they have won nine games this year.
“It is going to be different for us not starting the playoffs at home. We went through this whole thing last year with the week off last year, so it is different than years past. It is unique to have byes this late in the season. Handling the bye week is key.
“We have gotten healthy, which is a benefit. The biggest thing you are looking to do is to maintain your edge and stay as sharp as possible.”