A team with only one first down in the second half facing a pair of five-star defensive linemen 200 miles from home wouldn’t normally be providing its coach with a celebratory ice-water dump.
But St. Paul’s first-year coach Ham Barnett stood in the middle of the field at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl late Friday night in soaked clothes and absorbed what the big scoreboard had to say:
St. Paul’s 13, Carver 0.
Chris Bracy scored on a pair of short runs in the second half, then doused Barnett and the ninth-ranked Wolverines, who suffered a stunning shutout for the first time in 41 games to lose their fourth straight first-round game.
Few thought the 5-5 Saints had a chance but they reminded the rest of Class 6A about their postseason heritage and championship pedigree by snatching Carver out of the playoffs.
“When playoff time comes, our kids hit a new gear,” said Barnett, whose team is making its 13th straight playoff appearance and improved to 23-6 in the first round. “They want to keep playing.”
The Wolverines (9-2) couldn’t overcome the loss of starting quarterback Christian Johnson and starting running back Antonio Trone, who were among several players suspended for the game by the Alabama High School Athletic Association for participating in a fight during a 23-20 win over Sidney Lanier on Oct. 14.
And not even playing 5-star defensive linemen James Smith and Quaw Russaw as Wildcat quarterbacks could save Carver.
Smith and Russaw did their parts, helping the Wolverines hold St. Paul’s to 81 yards rushing and 123 yards of total offense.
But Bracy’s touchdown runs of 1 yard in the third quarter and 8 yards in the fourth were set up respectively by a high Carver punt snap and a high, perfectly placed corner punt by the Saints’ David Webb which skidded out of bounds at the Wolverines’ 4 late in the third quarter, clamping them into a trap from which they never escaped.
St. Paul’s (6-5), which is in the playoffs for the 13th straight year, will host Pelham (6-5) in the second round on Nov. 11.
This will be updated