Three years ago, Jamestown High School head football coach Bill Nelson told his group of freshmen that they have the potential to be special.

Friday night, that group of 15 proved their head coach right

“We had 19 (kids) when they were freshmen, had some injuries and then played the majority of the year with 14 or 15 kids and they lost two games to Century and Minot -- both in the last minute and 30 seconds of the game.

“That just shows the resolve of this group. They’re a special group.”

Under the leadership of the 15 now-seniors, the Blue Jays knocked off Class AA defending state champs, Bismarck St. Mary’s 20-7 at Charlotte and Gordon Hansen Stadium. The Blue Jays were the first team to defeat Bismarck St. Mary’s since Hillsboro did in the 2019 State semifinals. The last time the Saints and Jays met was in 2018. St. Mary’s came out on top of that match-up 37-7.

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“We knew they were the defending state champs and we just had to come out and bring it all,” Blue Jay senior receiver Adam Kallenbach said. “That was fun.”

Jamestown improved to 3-0 overall and in the Class A standings. The Jays are now the No. 1 team in the Class A division while St. Mary’s is 0-1 in conference play and 2-1 overall. The Jays will be on the road next week taking on Watford City. The game is slated to kick off at 7 p.m.

Grit and a little bit of luck were a recipe for Blue Jay success.

Saints quarterback Nick Schumacher hit a receiver with 3:38 to play in the fourth quarter but unfortunately, it wasn’t the one he was looking for.

Schumacher was deep in his own territory when he let loose his third interception of the game, hitting senior wideout Adam Kallenbach right in the belly. The touchdown scoring pick was Kallenbach’s second of the game.

“It was huge,” Kallenbach said. “We don’t care who scores or what happens, we just want to win.”

A three-play, 5-yard drive later, the hometown team found themselves up 20-7 with 2:50 left to play in the tilt.

“We were down 7-0 and they could have hung their heads, but they didn’t,” Nelson said of his team. “We just kept at it, kept at it and kept at it and took our shots when they were there, We were tough up front and we ran the ball really well.”

Jakob Schempp was the one who controlled much of the Jays’ run game churning out 45 yards off nine carries in the first half alone. Unofficially the senior running back finished out his night with 19 carries for 83 yards on the ground. Junior Paris Ndikum also broke some St. Mary’s tackles to pick up 30 yards on 11 rushing attempts.

“There are not many tougher 140-pound kids,” Nelson said of Schempp. “That’s the way Jakob has always been -- from the time he was a seventh-grader.

“I knew when there was that jump ball down here, he was getting picked on a little bit but I knew that he was going to keep battling and keep fighting and he ended up wrestling it away from him.”

Schempp’s interception was just one of four total Blue Jay picks off of Schumacher.

“We talk all the time about winning the line of scrimmage and we felt like tonight we won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Nelson said.

Thanks to the Jays’ defense, the Saints had nowhere to go.

With 17 seconds left in the half, Schumacher took over on his own 37 and almost immediately after snapping the ball senior Devin Beach wrapped him up for the first sack of the game. Beach was also a target for Hochhalter as the pair connected on one catch for 12 yards before the half was out.

“Our defense -- it wasn’t just one kid,” Nelson said. “It was multiple kids making big plays. We have a lot of good football players.

On 4th and 3, Hochhalter zipped one out to Preston Gall for a 15-yard completion to start the third quarter. After airing out two incompletions for Brode Hillstrom and Kallenbach, Hochhalter went for broke a third time but this time, Hillstrom came down with the 14-yard pass to give the Jays their first lead of the game.

Hochhalter went 12-of-19 for 148 yards through the air unofficially. The junior also rushed for two touchdowns. Kallenbach led the crew of wideouts with five receptions for 61 yards while Preston Kroeber came down with four passes for 23 yards.

“We became a better football program tonight,” Nelson said. “This was a 100% team effort. We’ll celebrate tonight, we’ll enjoy it tonight then we’ll have to work for Watford City next week.”

Jamestown 20, Bismarck St. Mary’s 7

SM 7 0 0 0 -- 7

JHS 0 7 7 6 -- 20

Scoring

First quarter

SM: 2-yard run by Isaac Felchle (Nick Schumacher kick good), 7:55.

Second quarter

JHS: 1-yard run by Payton Hochhalter (Adam Kallenbach kick good), 0:30.

Third quarter

JHS: 1-yard run by Hochhalter (kick failed)

Fourth quarter

No scoring.