BY Dwain Spillman Jr., Journal Sports
METAIRIE – Living in the moment.
The big question for St. Mary’s this week is now what to do with its moment
The crucial answer to the season-extending or season-ending question will be revealed as the Tigers travel to the deep southern part of our state Friday as No. 5 St. Mary’s collides with No. 4 St. Martin’s Episcopal in Metairie in the Division IV Select quarterfinals.
St. Mary’s (9-1) has enjoyed the moment, the victorious moment, every week after opening the 2022 football campaign with a loss to Class 3A powerhouse Abbeville on the road.
Ever since, the champions of District 3-1A have reeled off nine straight wins including this past week’s 45-0 shutout drubbing of Hanson Memorial in the second round.
“I told our kids this week that we are in the moment,” Tigers head coach Aaron York said of his team’s success to this point. “I then asked them, what are we going to do now that we are here, here in the moment?”
York then made his point immediately after posing that insightful inquiry with the Tiger squad this week. He has instructed his crew to remain focused and continue to strive to accomplish what they have set out to do since the Tigers began prepping for the season back in the spring.
“I just reminded them, we have to come out and play our game,” York said. “We have to come out and play physical, not turn the ball over, and move the ball on offense. I completely believe that we can move the ball offensively, but we cannot make mistakes against this team.”
St. Martin’s Episcopal, runners-up in District 10-1A to Riverside Academy, enters the matchup at 10-1 on the year and dumped Delhi Charter, 48-12, in the second round.
The No. 4 seeded Saints are led by sophomore running back Harlem Berry (No. 25). The 6-foot 165-pound sophomore has carried the St. Martin’s offense to success this season with 1,292 rushing yards on just 83 carries (15.6 yards per carry) while tallying 27 touchdowns via the ground game. Additionally, he has collected four catches for 50 yards via senior signal caller Matt Mannino. On the season, Mannino is 13-22 through the air for 218 yards and two TDs.
“We have seen a lot of athletes on our schedule this year,” York said in reviewing the Saints. “They are really no different than many of the challenges we have already faced. However, they are probably the most fundamentally sound football team that we have played this season. We just have to work very hard to contain them. This will be a very good test for us. We are completely focused this week on playing the next school on our schedule, this one just happens to be very far away from us.”
Since Abbeville scored 21 points in the opener, St. Mary’s has held its other nine opponents to 14 points or fewer, including seven to single digits.
The Tigers slammed the brakes on offenses like Logansport (24-8), Peabody (58-6) and Holy Savior Menard (35-7).
Not to mention an offense led by quarterback Adam Parker that has topped the 40-point marker six times in 10 games.
The Tigers attack on the ground with Parker and running backs Joe Metoyer and Drake Griffin while St. Mary’s offers an aerial assault thanks to weapons like Ethan Busby, Mixon Bankston and Payne Williams, who’s also an outstanding kicker.
The winner of this quarterfinals showdown has a date next week in the semifinals with the victor of the battle between No. 1 seed Vermillion Catholic and No. 9 seed Southern Lab.
St. Mary’s was last in the quarterfinals in 2017 and last won a quarters game in 2015 when the Tigers advanced all the way to the state championship game.
CREDIT: Elizabeth Yopp/St. Mary’s Media Relations