St. Vincent tries to keep momentum in Week 4

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Indians visit Maplewood one week after an emotional win over rival Valle.

St. Vincent's offense has managed just 26 points through three games, but the Indians' last-minute victory over rival Valle last week could be just what the doctor ordered to spark another successful season.

The win -- St. Vincent's first -- avenged last year's district- and conference-deciding 26-0 rout at the hands of Valle.

The Indians will travel to MAFC Blue Division foe Maplewood tonight in search of a .500 record.

"We're hoping that will be a big momentum-builder," St. Vincent coach Keith Winkler said of the Valle win. "We had to get a little confidence going, and hopefully we can build on that."

The victory saved St. Vincent from its first 0-3 start since 1993. St. Vincent finished with a 1-9 mark in 1993, which was the last year the Indians had a sub-.500 record. During that stretch, the Indians have failed to win at least seven games just once.

Over the past few seasons, the Indians have started slow, only to finish with a flurry. St. Vincent won seven of eight after starting 0-2 in 2003, and last year the Indians won six of their final seven games after a 1-2 start.

Winkler said St. Vincent's tradition is nice to look at, but this current group must stand on its own feet.

"We always talk about you're only as good as your work," Winkler said. "Their work ethic is really good. You can look back on tradition and it helps some, but this is a new team that has to prove themselves."

St. Vincent is led by just six seniors. More than half of the roster consists of freshmen and sophomores.

The Indians' youth likely played a part in their early struggles.

"Part of it is we had some kids playing up, playing different positions, trying to learn what's going on," Winkler said. "It was just a matter of us growing up as we go."

After three weeks, Winkler has seen some of that growth play out on the field.

"They understand you have to really focus and play with intensity," he said.

And while the senior class is small, they made their presence felt in last week's win. Valle opened a 6-0 lead at halftime and led 12-7 until senior quarterback Tim Guilliams gave the Indians a 13-12 lead with 34 seconds remaining.

Senior running back Lucas Robinson rushed for more than 100 yards for the Indians, including 75 in the second half.

"We saw the senior leadership step up and take control," Winkler said. "They said, 'OK, they scored first, but that doesn't matter. We'll just score two.'"

Maplewood has shown a high-powered offense the past two weeks, pouring on 70 points in a pair of victories. Both teams enter the game 1-0 in MAFC Blue Division play, following Maplewood's 28-0 win over St. Pius last week and St. Vincent's win over Valle.

The Indians will play the rest of their games leading up to district play within their conference. Crystal City, which St. Vincent shut out 21-0 last year, is state-ranked in Class 2 and likely would be considered the conference favorite.

"We look at everyone improving, and hopefully we're improving as we go," Winkler said. "Hopefully that leads to some W's from here."

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