BY DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Journal Sports
NATCHITOCHES – Even though St. Mary’s earned a first-round bye and will not see action in the Division IV Select playoff bracket until next week, there is no “off time” for head coach Aaron York’s crew as they prepare to embark on the postseason portion of their schedule.
The Tigers, champions of District 3-1A after dispatching rival Logansport a few weeks ago, drew the No. 5 seed in this year’s bracket and will face the winner of Friday’s matchup between No. 12 seed Hanson Memorial (Franklin) and No. 21 seed Delta Charter (Ferriday) in the second round of the road to the New Orleans Superdome.
“We’ve got to get the reps in and walk that line in getting those reps in while trying to get healthy again as well,” York said. “We can’t afford to take time off. If we haven’t put in the work, we can’t expect to go into the playoffs and be at our best next week.”
St. Mary’s, 8-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in league play, opened the season dropping a hard-fought contest to 3A powerhouse Abbeville by a 21-7 count.
Since opening week, the Tigers have reeled off eight straight wins and have had the luxury in most contests of playing underclassmen for most of the second half in each game. However, the Tigers have not been immune from the injury bug, and an off week will give the East Natchitoches team time to mend physically.
In preparation for the playoffs, York gathered his team early this week and recapitulated the focus his team must have if they want to achieve ultimate success.
“We had a team meeting Monday morning, and we talked about preparation,” York said. “It’s all about preparation. Now, every team you play is very good. It’s all about who prepares the best and who puts their best out there on the field. It’s all about taking care of everything, taking care of our reps, taking care of our health, and taking care of our work in the classroom and everywhere else. We are going to be prepared.”
Analyzing the two possible opponents, Hanson Memorial enters the playoffs at 8-2 overall out of District 7-1A, which primarily encompasses the extreme south-central portion of the state below Interstate 10. Hanson dropped its season finale in a league contest with Vermillion Catholic, 49-0. Vermillion currently occupies the No. 1 seed in this year’s bracket.
Delta Charter sits at 5-4 on the year and represents District 4-1A after dispatching Block, 48-12, to end the regular season.
“We got the best draw we could have hoped for,” York said when analyzing the entire bracket. “Again, every team is really good, and it’s a one game season from here on out. Every team will be well-coached and ready to play.”
CREDIT: Elizabeth Yopp/St. Mary’s Media Relations