By DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal
Such a bitter taste.
The St. Mary’s Tigers returned to work this week after yielding the District 3-1A title to long-term rival Logansport a week ago.
The path to the league title has traditionally passed through Natchitoches or north DeSoto parish for the last few decades. This year, the Tigers held a 3-0 lead late in the first half against Logansport before the visitors eventually wore down SMS in the trenches. Logansport dominated the battle up front in the second half as St. Mary’s succumbed to the much larger and stronger opponent, failing to gain any offensive momentum.
Upon returning to the practice field, the Tigers are focused on removing that most unpleasant flavor from their jaws.
SMS will travel to battle Northwood-Lena tonight in effort of doing just that while rounding out the regular season slate. At the same time, head coach Aaron York’s squad is prepping for what hopes to be a deep run in the post-season.
“We got to get a win,” York said. “We need to get a real bad taste our of our mouths. We want to get this right. We want to feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs.”
After gaining huge wins over much larger schools in the 2023 non-district campaign, SMS had cruised to victory in their first two district games before last Friday night. Against Logansport, the Tigers defense kept St. Mary’s close for most of the game as the offense and special teams failed to make consistent progress.
“We need to feel good with all three phases of the game,” York said of his team’s work this week. “We need to make sure that we are hitting on all cylinders going into the playoffs.”
The loss dropped SMS to 6-2 on the season while slipping to the runner-up spot in the league at 2-1. The defeat also removed the Tigers from the pinnacle of the Division IV Select power ratings sending them to the No. 3 slot. Northwood-Lena is a dismal 1-8 and 0-3 thus far.
The Tigers boss concluded, “To be honest, I am really glad it’s another Thursday game, with a quick turnaround. This way, you don’t get to sulk too much. We just need to get out there, play the game and get it out of our system and move on to the post-season.”
The Lakeview Gators will host defending state champion Many tonight in Campti to round up their first season under veteran head coach Andy Boone.
It will be no small task to hang with the visiting Tigers who are 6-2 overall and a perfect 4-0 in District 3-2A. Many has bettered the four league challengers this season by a 181-37 count. Many is sitting at 7th in the combined power ratings for Class 2A while garnering the No. 5 spot in the Division III non-select category.
The homestanding Gators will defend the artificial turf in the Swamp this evening hoping to correct a five-game losing streak since last defeating LaSalle on September 22. Lakeview is 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the district as squad numbers have been depleted in the second half of the campaign.