Tigers have high-stakes home playoff game tonight at Turpin

Drake Griffin has been one of the Tigers’ cornerstones in his senior year.

DWAIN SPILLMAN JR., Natchitoches Parish Journal

The next loss on the gridiron is the last loss of the season. Time to put away the football gear and focus on basketball.

When St. Mary’s entertains Glenbrook Academy of Minden tonight at Turpin Stadium in the second round of the playoffs, that will be the reality. What’s at stake? A win sends the victor to the Division IV Select quarterfinals next week while the loser moves on to winter sports schedules.

“We are just excited,” SMS head coach Aaron York said about his Tigers’ entry into the post season. “This is an opportunity for us to go back to back to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs two years in a row and that’s a huge accomplishment for any high school program.”

The Tigers enter the contest as the No. 6 seed, having earned an off week while the visiting Apaches from Webster Parish dispatched No. 22 Sacred Heart, 49-12, last week in the first round.

SMS completed the regular season at 7-2 overall while finishing as the runner-up in District 3-1A to rival Logansport. Glenbrook carries an overall mark of 8-2 with seven wins coming during the regular season and grabbing the third spot in the tough 1-1A standings with losses to close neighbors Haynesville and Homer.

Before enjoying the week off, the Tigers put up an impressive 61-8 clobbering of Northwood-Lena to round out the regular season and carry much momentum into tonight’s matchup.

“At this time of year, everyone is really good,” York continued as he looked at his opponent. “Glenbrook is very well coached. They are big and play very physical. We must limit our turnovers and we hope to create some turnovers. We also have to focus on not giving up the big play on defense.

“We will have to play fast and, honestly, we have to play our best game of the year to win and move on. That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s only the best that play at this time of year.”

The Tigers have been directed on offense by senior quarterback Mixon Bankston. A supporting cast contributing heavily to the Tigers’ success on that side of the ball has included the likes of Drake Griffin, Ben Bienvenu, Ethan Busby and Colorado State commit Payne Williams. Defensively, additional contributors have been Braylon Normand, Nathan Slaughter, and Mason Mathis among others.

Of note, the Apaches began competition in the LHSAA just recently in 2021-22 as a probationary member, having previously competed in the Mississippi private school football league. Glenbrook gained full membership in 2022 and posted an 11-1 overall mark in its first year, going undefeated in district play (6-0) before losing a nail biter to Ouachita Christian in the quarterfinals, 28-27, last season.

The winner of tonight’s epic matchup of storied high school programs faces the winner of No. 3 OCS and No. 19 Westminster Christian Thanksgiving weekend.