St. Mary’s hosts Logansport tonight in district title game; Gators home Friday

St. Mary’s senior quarterback Mixon Bankston (1) watches his senior teammate, Ben Bienvenu, drag three defenders for more yardage in the season-opening win over Abbeville.

By DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal

It all comes down to this.

St. Mary’s will square off with Logansport tonight at 7 in Turpin Stadium with the District 3-1A crown on the line. The road to the championship has traditionally been decided between these two perennial Class A giants.

Tonight is no different. SMS comes into this epic battle at 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the district and sits atop of the Division IV Select power rankings. Logansport is 7-1 and also 2-0 in league play and grabs the runner-up spot in the Division IV Non-Select ratings.

“I am glad it’s a short week,” Tiger head coach Aaron York said of the anticipation of tonight’s game. “We are just ready to get it on the field and settle it.”

The SMS squad licked its wounds after suffering the first defeat of the season, at Class 4A Peabody, and handed Montgomery a 49-0 drubbing last week. Logansport is on a 7-game winning streak after dropping the 2023 opener at Class 2A powerhouse Calvary.

Logansport is explosive on offense and will provide major challenges for the St. Mary’s defense. The visiting Tigers have not been tested over the last three weeks, blowing out opponents by a combined score of 158-6 while collecting two conference victories.

“I am just hoping we learned some key lessons from the Peabody game,” York continued when he looked back at the Tigers only setback of this season. “I believe we responded well against Montgomery but we shall see if we have fully recovered mentally in our preparation this week.”

St. Mary’s most veteran players will be honored during “Senior Night” this evening as they participate in their last regular-season home game in front of the most loyal fans. The district championship is not the only prize on the line tonight for both teams. Postseason seeding is also a major consideration.

“We are playing for a lot at this time of the season which is good,” York said. “Our kids know it’s a big game and we live for moments like this. The stakes get bigger each week and this game falls right into our philosophy is just the next game that is in front of us. But, we know this one is huge. We will just see who is left standing when it’s over.”

Logansport is coached by former Northwestern quarterback Kevin Magee. In Week 3, Logansport overwhelmed visiting Peabody 34-6. Two weeks ago, St. Mary’s led 14-13 at Peabody at halftime, but were overrun afterward in a 41-20 loss.

The DeSoto Parish Tigers have scored at least 32 points each time in their current winning streak, 60 in each of the last two games.

St. Mary’s currently reigns as district champion with its 24-8 win at Logansport this time last fall. The local Tigers have won two of the last three matchups.

In north Natchitoches Parish, head coach Andy Boone’s Lakeview Gators will host Jonesboro-Hodge in an effort to halt a four-game skid after opening the season at 3-1. Lakeview is currently 3-5 and 0-3 in District 3-2A and both teams will be looking to grab their first conference win as the visitors are 2-6 overall and an identical 0-3 in the league. A Gator win could, in all probability, earn Lakeview a berth in the post-season.

“I just want our team to show some pride and keep on fighting,” Boone said earlier this week. “We cannot just lay down. We can definitely find a way to win but we have to be willing to put in the preparation and the work in order to get the wins. That hasn’t been happening the last few weeks. If we don’t prepare we can’t expect to win.”

Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock Friday night just northeast of Campti.