Moving up to Class AAAA brought stiff competition for the 2019 St. Peter Saints football team. But a passing attack led by quarterback Wyatt Olson still made for a strong season, despite the 3-6 record.
Facing the likes of Fairmont, Marshall and Waseca, a five-game losing streak midseason didn’t tell the full story of this fall’s Saints football program. And coaches handed out a handful of awards Sunday to show for players’ efforts.
Four Saints senior players were named to the All-District team, led by Olson as the team co-offensive most valuable player, Ryan Wilmes as team defensive MVP, lineman Carson Kennedy, and wide receiver Ethan Volk.
Two other seniors were named All-District honorable mention: running back/defensive back Michael Connor and lineman Logan Reese.
Other awards given out Sunday included: Kennedy, team “Big Man on Campus” award; and junior Ryan Sandland as the team’s special teams player of the year.
Senior defensive player Eli Hunt was also recognized as a Minnesota Football Coaches Association academic All-State award winner.
Wilmes led the Saints defensive team with 111 total tackles, also led the team with four interceptions, added a fumble recovery and 3.5 tackles for loss. Kennedy added 62 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 quarterback sacks.
Connor also had 62 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Sandland added 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery. Hunt led the Saints with 6.5 quarterback sacks.
For most of the season, it was a battle of the Saints’ passing attack against their opponents’ running games. Olson aired it up 325 times, completing 178 for 2,013 yards. He tossed for 25 touchdowns while only getting intercepted 11 times.
The Saints outgained opponents through the air by a 2,013 to 1,564 margin.
Volk was Olson’s primary receiver, catching 61 passes for 737 yards, a 12.1 average per catch, for 9 touchdowns and one extra-point reception. Ethan Grant followed with 25 catches for 414 yards, a team-high 16.6 average and team-high 10 touchdowns, with one PAT catch.
Two other Saints receivers caught at least 20 passes: running back Vinny Guappone, 23 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns; and tight end Josh Johnson, 20 receptions for 230 yards, an 11.5 average per catch.
Connor led the Saints’ rushing attack with 96 carries for 374 yards, a 3.9 average per carry, and two touchdowns. Guappone followed with 69 carries for 282 yards, a 4.1 average, and a pair of scores.
While the Saints were outgained by a 3,253 to 2,801 yards margin, St. Peter totaled 107 first downs, one more than opponents.