St. Mary’s struggles, Logansport claims district championship

Payne Williams follows through on his 42-yard field goal late in the first half Thursday night, giving St. Mary’s a 3-0 lead over Logansport. (Photo by ELIZABETH YOPP)

By DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal

Normally, to the winner of the war in the trenches goes the spoils of victory.

It was no different Thursday night in Turpin Stadium as Logansport squared off with St. Mary’s for the outright District 3-1A championship. It has become tradition that the title goes to one of these teams annually.

The visiting Tigers from DeSoto Parish claimed that conference crown and will wear it into the post-season in just a few weeks as they handed SMS a 20-3 defeat on Senior Night in Natchitoches. Logansport’s size and experience up front on both the offensive and defensive lines were the paramount keys to the win.

“They are a really good team,” a gracious yet disappointed SMS head coach Aaron York commented immediately following the epic battle of two of the state’s best Class 1A squads. “I thought we played just as hard as we could for the first half. Unfortunately, during the second half up front, we just got beat down.”

York’s crew had their chances on the night. In the first half, the Tiger defense bent but didn’t break as Logansport traveled into the red zone on their first three possessions. Logansport turned the ball over on downs twice and SMS recovered a fumble on the other.

The homestanding Tigers finally tallied three points on the scoreboard after Drake Griffin recovered a muffed punt and placekicker Payne Williams split the uprights from 42 yards out just a few plays later to give SMS its only lead at 3-0 with just 2:53 left before the break.

Ten plays later, with time ticking down to five seconds on the clock, LHS struck paydirt on a four-yard TD pass and catch to junior Jordan Meshell to grab the momentum away from St. Mary’s and take an 8-3 advantage at the half. The valiant St. Mary’s defense had bent, put up a massive fight, but finally broke.

Logansport continued its momentum and came out of the locker room energized for the third quarter, marching 80 yards on nine plays to stretch the lead to 14-3. SMS had more chances in the second half to close the gap, attributed to huge plays made by the defense, but the war of attrition in the trenches eventually sucked the life out of any comeback. Logansport added its final score midway through the final quarter that eventually put the contest out of reach.

“Things went their way, things went our way,” York added regarding the struggle for both teams to gain an advantage in field position. “We just didn’t find a way to pull it out and we have to learn from it going into the playoffs.”

Logansport, holding the runner-up spot in the Division IV non-select power ratings, moves to 8-1 on the season and remains a perfect 3-0 in league play heading into next week’s regular season finale. The homestanding SMS Tigers should maintain their top rating in the Division IV select group and drop to 6-2 and 2-1 in the district.

St. Mary’s will complete the regular season slate on the road next week at the district’s cellar dweller, Northwood-Lena. Preliminary reports at press time were that the game has been moved to a Thursday night kickoff.

York outlined his team’s mission for the final session of the regular season. “This week we have to bounce back heading into the playoffs.”