Tonight’s district title game at Logansport will define 2021 SMHS squad

Nobody who saw it will forget last year’s 46-45 win by St. Mary’s over Logansport, when the local Tigers scored 15 points in the last 17 seconds to end the visitors’ 26-game district winning streak.

A year later, St. Mary’s goes to Logansport tonight for a 7 o’clock rematch that will again determine the District 3-1A championship, and could turn the tide in this friendly rivalry.

Despite last year’s outcome, Logansport has had the upper hand lately against SMHS. But putting a road win on top of last year’s incredible victory would flip the script.

More importantly, it would virtually guarantee St. Mary’s at least one home game in the upcoming Division IV playoffs. The Tigers currently stand fifth in the LHSAA’s power points rankings, and the top eight teams host first round games, with the top four best positioned to host another game.

“That’s our goal is to host this year. We’ve been to the playoffs, but it’s time for us to host a game and win, and then make a run,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “We’ve set ourselves in position to do that, being one of the top eight teams, but we’ve got to finish it in these next two weeks.”

St. Mary’s is 7-1 and has won seven straight. Logansport, whose head coach, Kevin Magee, is a former NSU quarterback, is 4-4. Both squads are 3-0 in district.

“That 4-4 record is very deceptive,” said York. “Like us, they played up in classification in non-district games. Logansport and Oak Grove are the two hot picks to win Class A in the non-select division. They’re a very, very good 1A team.

“They’ve got kids up front who can play. They’ve got a big time receiver and a quarterback who gets him the ball. They’re extremely well coached.”

And they’ve got a chip on their shoulders.

“We’re not sneaking up on anybody because we won the district last year, and the way we beat them last year, it’s eaten at them for every day since then so they will be highly motivated Friday night,” said York. “For us, we’ve got a chance to be back-to-back district champions, which hasn’t been done here in a while.”

Both teams have mashed their other district foes and have played out games with running clocks the last three weeks, at least. This matchup, however, shapes up as a four-quarter battle.

“Offensively, we’ve got to establish the running game and that opens up things on the outside and down the field,” said York. “Defensively, we have to contain their athletes. But we’ve got good athletes too, and we know we’re good. We have to go prove it Friday night.

“Everything we’ve done to this point leads us to this moment. We’re treating it like a playoff game and it is a district championship game, just like both teams expected it to be as soon as the schedules came out.”

What will be the legacy of the 2021 St. Mary’s team? Tonight’s contest is a defining moment, and York said his Tigers are ready.

“I like where our team is, the mindset of our kids, going into this,” he said.