St. Thomas Academy wanted payback for last year's section finals overtime heartbreaker against South St. Paul. It cost the Cadets a trip to the state tournament and tarnished their undefeated record.
They're no longer in the same football class, but the two teams met again Wednesday night for the final regular-season matchup. South St. Paul sported a perfect 7-0 mark and St. Thomas Academy was 6-1.
But what appeared at the outset to be a competitive grudge match turned into a blowout as the Cadets shut out the Packers 34-0 on the road to earn a split of the Classic Suburban title.
"It's always in the back of our minds," senior Danny McManus said of last season. "The seniors from last year's team were sending in e-mails to us wishing us good luck this week. We were hungry."
Wyatt Schmidt opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal on the Cadets' opening offensive drive. Pat McFadden followed that up with a 6-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Keegan Zimprich threw a 60-yard strike to McManus that made it 17-0 early in the second quarter.
The Packers were stunned, but it would be just the beginning of a long night.
McManus and McFadden each added rushing touchdowns in the third and Schmidt's big boot capped the scoring with a 33-yard field goal.
The Cadets defense was airtight and neutralized Jake Hill, the Packers' top offensive threat. From start to finish, St. Thomas put on a clinic in all areas of the game. With the playoffs next week, the Cadets' timing couldn't be better.
"We told the kids all year, when we get done with the regular season, we want to be primed for the playoffs," head coach Dave Ziebarth said. "And if we can play like this in the playoffs, I think we can go a ways."