St. Mary utility man Cody Sjogren makes an acrobatic catch in Thursday's 24-22 victory over the visiting Walter Murray squad. Herald photo by Gary Pearson
--PRINCE ALBERT-- St. Mary, after going down 16-3, played some inspired football to comeback, prevailing 24-22 over visiting Walter Murray to send the Marauders into the playoffs with added confidence.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs (a) really big confidence (boost) for our guys and it‚Äôs a really big confidence (boost) for our offence to put up points,‚ÄĚ said St. Mary head coach Curt Hundeby.
Walter Murray took charge early with two touchdowns ‚Äď one a quarterback keeper from Ben Leier ‚Äď to obtain a 14-3 lead with 10:15 left in the first half. A St. Mary safety extended the visitors‚Äô cushion to 16-3.
But the home side came storming back with 21 consecutive points to improve their record to 3-4 on the campaign.
‚ÄúI think that probably secures seventh for us,‚ÄĚ said Hundeby.
Trailing 16-10 with 39 seconds remaining in the first half, St. Mary thwarted Walter Murray‚Äôs third-down conversion attempt while the visitors were in the red zone and threatening to extend their first-half advantage.
With 7:01 remaining in the third the home side took its first lead of the game, a lead St. Mary would not relinquish. Set up on the one-yard line by a 37-yard reception by utility man Cody Sjogren, the Marauders punched the ball in for a 17-16 lead.
‚Äú(The win means) a lot because our offence has been struggling for the last couple of weeks,‚ÄĚ said Sjogren, who was slotted over the course of the game into almost all positions on the field. ‚ÄúWe all thought it was time to buckle down and step it up.‚ÄĚ
Sjogren was influential wherever he was asked to play. From an important 60-yard punt that got his team out of peril late in the fourth, to multiple receptions and timely defensive tackles, the 16-year-old was ubiquitous all afternoon.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs kind of our Mr. Everything,‚ÄĚ said Hundeby. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got him at linebacker because he flies around and makes tackles but he‚Äôs a quick guy so we use him as a returner.
‚ÄúWe use him as a receiver, he‚Äôs our kicker, so he is involved in a lot of what we do. Athletically he can do it all.‚ÄĚ
The victory will bolster the home side‚Äôs confidence going into next week‚Äôs playoffs, which Hundeby said, depending on Friday‚Äôs results, will either be against Aden Bowman or Holy Cross.
Either way, the second-seeded team from Saskatoon cannot ill-afford to take a fired up St. Mary side lightly.