By Dwain Spillman Jr, Journal Sports
NATCHITOCHES – Tigers versus Tigers. Eleven on eleven.
As No. 5 seed St. Mary’s (8-1) studies their second-round playoff opponent No. 12 Hanson Memorial (9-2), the homestanding Tigers would certainly view major similarities.
The Friday kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at NSU’s Turpin Stadium with admission being $15.
Both schools taut the Tiger as mascot. Both schools are loaded with talent. Both teams require almost an equal number of starting players to tally significant time on both sides of the ball.
“I believe this bunch is the spitting image of us,” St. Mary’s coach Aaron York said in reviewing the competition this week. “They have a bunch of kids that play really hard, and most of their starters play both sides of the ball.”
St. Mary’s is coming off a first-round bye, awarded to the top eight teams in the Division IV Select playoff bracket. The Tigers also had one regular-season bye week.
York added that the key to victory this week will be to bring everything his team has worked on to fruition in what is now a “one-game season.”
“We just have to play our best football this week,” York said. “At this point, it is win the next game or you’re done, and that just makes it even more exciting. We will be physically and mentally prepared, and we will give our best effort. We are as healthy as we can be. We definitely will play hard and give it all we have.”
Hanson recorded its ninth win this season after squeaking by Delta Charter, 48-46, in the first round of the Division IV Select playoffs a week ago.
The visiting Tigers will be led offensively by junior quarterback Ethan Judice while sophomore Loren Wells and senior Eugene Foulcard Jr. are expected to carry the rushing load from the backfield.
Hanson coach Ryan Stoute’s crew finished third in their league this season yielding decisions only to this year’s No. 1 seed Vermillion Catholic (49-0) and No. 2 seed Central Catholic (60-14). Stoute was very complimentary of his opposition this week.
“They are a very good football team,” Stoute said of the St. Mary’s crew. “They have athletes everywhere, and I am very impressed with No. 10 (senior QB Adam Parker). I am very impressed with what they do.”
The Franklin, Louisiana-based boss man also expressed jubilation for his team reaching the second round of this year’s postseason.
“This is uncharted territory for us,” he said. “We are just enjoying the ride. We want to go up there and perform at our best. It’s just exciting to be where we are at this time.”
Hanson’s playoff win was its first since 2004, when the Tigers advanced to the Class 1A quarterfinals.
To this week’s victor goes a meeting with the winner of No. 4 seed St. Martin’s Episcopal and No. 13 seed Delhi Charter during the weekend following Thanksgiving in the quarterfinal round.
CREDIT: Elizabeth Yopp/St. Mary’s Media Relations