Unbeaten Tigers, plucky Gators on road Friday

Photo by ELIZABETH YOPP, courtesy St. Mary’s

By DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal

The St. Mary’s Tigers will take a break from district play this Friday night. But, it won’t be much of a break.

SMS travels to clash with the Class 4A Peabody Warhorses in Alexandria before returning to conference play next week. The Warhorses are 4-2 on the year and stand at 12th in the Division II Select power ratings as per Geauxpreps.com.

“It will be a big test for us,” SMS coach Aaron York said. “What we have to do is figure out how to slow down their speed and athleticism. Peabody is much improved since last year and they are really starting to believe in their coach (former LSU linebacker Harry Coleman, in his second year).”

The Tigers are a perfect 5-0 overall but more importantly stand at 1-0 in District 3-1A after shutting out rival LaSalle, 42-0, to conclude homecoming festivities a week ago. SMS has moved into the top spot in the state’s power rankings in the Division IV Select category.

“I think we are where we need to be at this point,” York said. “We haven’t peaked out and that’s a good thing because I absolutely believe our best games are still ahead of us. We still have a lot of room for improvement but the boys are working hard. I really like where are.”

York concluded, “Our goal is to get better every day. Our mantra is focused on planning and preparation both on and off of the field. Our players need to take care of their school work, their bodies, and practice time. If we can do all of that then I completely believe we will be very successful.”

Over at the Swamp east of Campti, coach Andy Boone’s Gators are struggling with depth issues. But the first-year Lakeview boss has also struggled with fielding enough players to complete a solid practice. With parish schools on break this week, just 12 players took the field for practice on Monday.

“It’s almost impossible to plan and prepare to win when players don’t show for practice,” a disappointed Boone said Monday evening. “We need the work because we only dress out 20 to 23 kids for a game. It you are not prepared to win then it’s simply just hard to win.

“It’s not to say that our kids are not working hard when they practice and play games because they are. But it’s about preparation and that’s a huge part of being successful.”

The Gators, 3-3 overall and 0-1 in District 3-2A play, hit the road for a second straight week as they travel to Coushatta for an always intense matchup with Red River this Friday night. The host Bulldogs stand at 1-5 overall but 1-0 in district play after dispatching Jonesboro-Hodge on the road last week, 32-8.

Though dropping their last two contests, the Gators have been successful on offense this season outscoring opponents 218-198 through six games.

“This is a very winnable game,” Boone said about the contest with Red River. “We always have a chance to win but we have to be prepared to win.”

Of note, Lakeview may be without playmaker Kaleb Collins who left last week’s bout with Winnfield early in the first quarter. He was listed early this week as extremely questionable for Friday’s action.