St. Mary’s, Lakeview kick off district play on winning streaks

SHAKE ‘EM OFF: Running back Joe Metoyer sheds would-be tacklers during a win against Holy Savior Menard

BY DWAIN SPILLMAN Jr./ Journal Sports

NATCHITOCHES — Now, it’s about to get real.

After enjoying a much-needed bye week, St. Mary’s will begin the most important season of all as they travel to square off with LaSalle this Friday in the District 3-1A opener.

The Tigers (3-1) are hunting for their second district title in three seasons after winning the crown in an abbreviated 2020 season.

“It is district,” Tigers boss Aaron York said. “This will be a big week for us. Our goal each year is to win district, and you can’t win it until you win the first one.”

LaSalle (3-2) started 3-0 but have dropped their last two decisions to Lakeview (28-6) in Week 4 and Delhi Charter (53-8) this past week.

However, York added that LaSalle has been a traditionally challenging opponent to overcome.

“It’s going to be a dogfight every time we play them,” York said looking ahead to the trip down Hwy. 84. “They have some hard-nosed, tough kids and they are going to come out swinging and fighting. We play them every year, and it has always been a big challenge for us because just about anything will happen.”

St. Mary’s will be well-rested for the potential dogfight after coming off a bye this past week.

York said it has given his team time to heal from injury and refocus on fundamentals as they face the second half of the season. After dropping a touch contest at perennial Class 3A powerhouse Abbeville in Week 1, the Tigers recorded three straight victories before taking a rest in Week 5.

“We are fairly healthy right now,” York said. “We are just trying to get through this week of practice without any further issues. We are just working on fundamentals on offense and defense.”

Lakeview riding wave as Winnfield begins district slate

The Lakeview Gators (4-1) are enjoying an infrequent but coveted 4-game winning streak as one of their biggest challenges of the season looms on the Friday night horizon.

After opening the season with a heart-breaking loss to D’Arbonne Woods Charter, Lakeview has tallied four wins over legitimate foes as they open District 3-2A with perhaps the most legitimate foe to date in Winnfield. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at The Swamp.

“It’s a real big challenge for us,” Helms said as his team prepares for the Winnfield Parish opponent. “Winnfield is very good, and they are well-coached. They have a lot of depth.”

Winnfield (4-1) is also enjoying a much-improved season after disappointing campaigns over the last few seasons, posting a better than .500 mark just once in the last five years. The Tigers slapped Bunkie with a 23-14 loss on the road a week ago and roll into district play with tons of confidence.

Among Winnfield’s wins is Class 5A member Pineville, whom the Tigers drubbed 33-6.

“We are very excited coming into this week,” Helms continued. “It’s exciting because we have enjoyed some success this season. However, the kids understand what’s at stake. We are going to go do what we do.”

That success has come at a price. Starting veteran quarterback CJ Jones is questionable to return to the lineup this week as he continues to heal from injury. Helms said that Jones has seen limited action in practice this week.

However, the move placed versatile threat Dillon Pikes under center with success this past week.

Pikes, whom Helms has called the most versatile player he has coached in his 27 years, had 14 touches last week in his first start at quarterback and tallied more than 150 yards from scrimmage.

Additionally, the talented senior stud returned a kickoff for a touchdown while robbing Delta Charter with two interceptions on defense.

Photo: Elizabeth Yopp/St. Mary’s Media Relations