Improvement on defense the biggest takeaway from the Buckaroos 60-0 demolition of the Cardinals

After struggling to keep pace in losses to three of the top 1A teams in the state in its first four games, and staring down a week-six matchup at No. 5 Dufur, St. Paul was in desperate need of a win entering Friday night’s home tilt versus Ione.

The Buckaroos put it all together in their fifth contest of the season, stockpiling 578 yards of offense and holding the Cardinals to just 11 en route to a 60-0 blowout victory.

“We’ve been able to run the ball pretty effectively in all of our games,” head coach Tony Smith said. “That has not been the issue for us. The issue has been trying to slow someone down at all and I thought we did a better job of that.”

St. Paul scored an average of 48 points in each game, but gave up an average of 67.5 against the likes of top-ranked Imbler, No. 2 Lowell and two-time defending state champion Camas Valley, which is unbeaten and ranked No. 6.

A big key in the improvement in the defense was the return of senior Cody Southerland, who was the only returning starter on the defense and sat out the Imbler game the week before with an injury.

Southerland is also the team’s starting quarterback and rushed for 62 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Three different Bucks rushers finished with over 100 yards, as Tyler Smith rumbled for a game-high 137 and two scores, Mario Dela Rosa 113 and one touchdown, and Austin McMillen 111 and two scoring jaunts. Chris Petrjanos added 77 yards on 10 carries and hit pay dirt twice as well.

McMillen also impressed defensively, breaking up three passes, while Zach Adams had 10 tackles.

Turnovers had been somewhat of a problem in St. Paul’s three losses, as the offense simply couldn’t afford such errors when opponents were scoring on nearly every possession, but lost just one fumble in a wet and sloppy contest at the Rodeo Grounds Friday night.

St. Paul lost its fumble on its first possession of the game, but scored touchdowns on eight consecutive drives after that.

The Bucks will travel to Dufur for the third time this season, this time to play the host Rangers, who handed Imbler its lone loss of the season 56-28 in week two.

“We’re improving and I think we can compete with those teams,” Smith said. “We’ve been our own worst enemy in the problems that we’ve had.”

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