Route to Montgomery is different for St. Mary’s fans, who hope for a rout tonight

St. Mary’s fans will have to go off the normal route to get to Montgomery for the Tigers’ football game tonight, when they hope to see a rout of the home team.

St. Mary’s has won six straight heading into the 7 p.m. neighborhood rivalry contest and is a big favorite to handle the home team. The Montgomery Tigers have given up no less than 38 points in a game this season, that happening last week when Northwood-Lena walked away winners.

Getting there will probably be more challenging than scoring for St. Mary’s. A U.S. Highway 71 bridge is out between Clarence and Montgomery, forcing travelers from Natchitoches to detour north at Clarence and through the woods south, or down I-49 to the Colfax exit, across the Red River and back up north on 71 into Montgomery.

St. Mary’s is 6-1 and unbeaten in two district 3-1A games. The local Tigers are No. 8 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class A top 10 poll, and they rank third in the LHSAA’s power points rankings for the 26-team state Division IV postseason seedings.

Montgomery’s only win came by forfeit and in their six on-field defeats, the MHS Tigers have given up an average of 52 points.

SMHS coach Aaron York expects Montgomery to try to contain the damage by trying to contain St. Mary’s passing game.

“They’ll use a two-high safety look to keep our passing attack in front and contain the outside, and if we can’t get them out of that with some formations, we’ve got three good running backs and we’ll saddle up and ride them behind our offensive line,” he said.

When St. Mary’s is playing defense, it will have to corral one of central Louisiana’s most dynamic players, versatile J.T. Turner. He does it all for Montgomery, including handling some of the kicking duties and providing a serious threat in the return game.

“We’ve got to stop their quarterback (Turner). He’s explosive. He’s one of the best athletes in our district. He’s going to touch it every play, and we have to contain him. If we do that, we’ll be successful,” said York. “We also have to respect his ability returning kicks and punts. We have a great kicker with Payne Williams and hopefully we can keep the ball away from Turner by kicking it into the end zone.”

Factor in the rivalry element, and York is taking nothing for granted in the visit to Montgomery.

“This is the closest game in district we play. Our kids know their kids, their kids know our kids. They really get up for us, and it’s senior night for them. We will get their best shot and we need to match that intensity.”

That’s a message the SMHS coaches have preached all week long.

“If you don’t bring your best, you can get beat. The first quarter against Block last week, we were down 6-0 and that was a reminder that we’ve got to play 48 minutes. We didn’t take control of that one for a while, contrary to what a lot of people expected.”

That eventual 41-6 triumph wrapped up with a running clock throughout the fourth quarter, when St. Mary’s got a lot of young players into action. The same scenario, with a better start, would be the script York hopes to see tonight.