League champion St. Mary’s dominates All-District 3-1A football team

After capturing the District 3-1A football crown and advancing to the state quarterfinals, the 2022 St. Mary’s football team deservedly took up a lot of room on the all-district football roster chosen by league coaches.

Fourteen different Tigers filled a total of 23 positions as either first or second-team all-district selections.

St. Mary’s had seven first-team picks on both the offensive and defensive rosters, and added two more with Payne Williams sweeping the first-team kicker and punter honors. Seven more Tigers were second-team all-district.

SMHS swept the top awards: quarterback Adam Parker was the Offensive MVP, linebacker Drake Griffin the Defensive MVP, and coach Aaron York won Coach of the Year recognition.

Collecting two-way first-team honors were Griffin (“athlete” on offense, linebacker on defense), Mixon Bankston (receiver, “flex”), Ethan Busby (receiver, defensive back), Kolton Norsworthy (offensive lineman, defensive lineman), and Williams (defensive back, kicker and punter).

The other first-team picks: Parker at QB, running back Joe Metoyer, offensive lineman Mason Mathis, and linebackers Nathan Slaughter and Logan Watson.

Williams was a second-team pick at receiver. Mathis made the second team on the defensive line.

More second-team selections were Russ Hillhouse (offensive line), Conor Joran (a two-way pick on the second team, at running back and defensive lineman), Braylon Normand (linebacker and kicker), Chance Rushing (defensive lineman).

“I think this is great publicity for our players. They have put in countless hours to get to where we are today. All district awards are a celebration of the work, effort and dedication they have put into our season,” said York.

“I felt like we were represented well with All-District awards. When you have the success like we had this year throughout the district, it is good for your team to get recognized,” he said.

Along with a dominant, unbeaten run through district, the Tigers won nine straight games after an opening loss at Class 3A playoff entry Abbeville. SMHS (9-2) picked up its first playoff win in five seasons, after earning an opening round playoff bye.

Griffin earned Defensive MVP honors by leading the Tigers with 65 tackles (54 solo, 22 assists), 11 sacks (for 59 negative yards) and 25.5 tackles for loss. He recovered three fumbles, forced one and returned one for a touchdown. Offensively, he was a close second on the team in rushing yardage (571 on 67 carries, an 8.5 average) and scored four TDs. He added another on a reception, one of eight (103 yards).

Offensive MVP Parker completed 71 percent of his 202 passes (143-202) while throwing only four interceptions, and piling up 22 scoring strikes. He had a 185.7 quarterback rating. He ran for 12 TDs, best on the team, with 335 yards on 74 carries.

Metoyer led the Tigers with 588 yards rushing (91 carries, 6.5 average) and 11 rushing TDs. He added three more on receptions, making 16 for 156 yards.

Bankston topped St. Mary’s with five interceptions and 66 return yards, collecting 30.5 total tackles (27 solo, 7 assists) and recovering two fumbles. Offensively, he snagged 22 passes for 268 yards and three TDs and also scored a rushing TD on six carries.

The Tigers’ top pass catcher was Busby, with 48 and 777 yards receiving, averaging 16.2 per catch. He caught 11 for touchdowns. Busby also led the Tigers with five pass breakups, making 17 tackles and picking off three passes, one returned for a score.

Williams hit four field goals, including one from 40-plus yards and one over 50 yards, and drilled 44 of 46 extra point kicks. He was 2-of-6 from 40 or longer while going 4-of-9 overall. He nailed 37 touchbacks on 63 kickoffs. His punting average was 30.4. Defensively Williams made 16.5 tackles (15 solos), three pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery. At receiver, he was second on the squad with 24 catches and 315 receiving yards, including a TD.

Watson recorded 49.5 total tackles (43/13) including four sacks (minus 46 yards) and 7.5 for lost yards. He led the Tigers with three forced fumbles, and recovered three, returning one for a score.

Mathis made six tackles for loss among his 12.5 total stops.

Slaughter had 19.5 tackles, an interception returned 23 yards for a TD, and a fumble recovery.

Normand posted 30.5 tackles (24 solos, 13 assists), including six for lost yards, and had an interception and fumble recovery. Norsworthy made 17 stops (13/8), one sack and two for lost yards) and intercepted a pass, returning it 26 yards.

Jordan collected 15.5 tackles, four for lost yardage. Rushing made seven stops, two behind the line. He added three pass receptions for 92 yards, and was the fourth-leading rusher for SMHS with 214 yards on 29 carries (7.4 per carry) with three TDs.

The Class A All-State team will be announced Friday.