By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
Tuesday’s rain brought much needed relief to the area and washed a clean slate for the Saint Mary’s Tiger football team. The precipitation prepped the field for the beginning of a new era at the East fifth street school. The Tiger’s had a phenomenal year on the gridiron and look to rebuild under the tutelage of new head coach, Aaron York. Wednesday afternoon was the start of new things at Saint Mary’s.
Coach York comes to the school from Panama City, Florida with college and family ties to the central Louisiana area. He played for the Louisiana College Wildcats in Pineville and is married to an Alexandria native. Coach York brings thirteen years of coaching experience to the school and will also serve as the Athletic Director. He believes in a philosophy of “win forever”. Winning in the classroom, off the field and at home will inevitably transition to winning between the hash marks. The York era started in May, and he wasted no time getting his system in place.
The Tigers competed in 7on7 action in about seven contests this summer. It was the ideal way for Coach York and the staff to install the new offense he plans to execute. The new offense will be complemented by a defensive scheme that Coach Stephen Wren had brought to the team last season. The Tigers’ graduated a lot of talent last season but return some notable performers from a team that was a game shy of the dome. As many as eight senior Tigers will lineup for Coach York while adorning a new helmet design. Running the Offense at quarter back will be Senior Parker Bankston. who played last season at the position in relief of Aaron Howell.
He will likely target fellow seniors Luke Gallien and Austin Vienne through the air. The Offensive line was decimated with graduation but returns two starters in Matthew Thibodaux and Damon Legrande. Prowling the defensive side of the ball will be returning middle linebacker Zach Harrell. He will be joined by Brock Zeigler as a likely outside linebacker and Jace Nobles who played along the defensive line last year. The roster has about 32 players currently and when school begins in a couple of weeks, perhaps some others will catch the football fever. The heat of August will prepare the Tigers for a season with other notable firsts. An annual tradition at Saint Mary’s is the steak supper. That preseason scrimmage will be held on campus versus D’Arbonne Woods at six in the evening on August 17th. The varsity will play following an inner-squad scrimmage for the Elementary and Junior High Tigers. Tickets for the steak supper game and also for season passes can be purchased at the school and from any varsity athlete. The proceeds from sales are the main fundraiser for all varsity athletics at Saint Mary’s. So come out and support the Tigers.
The Tigers will kick off the season with the traditional battle of the Red against the Lakeview Gators. That is not new, but the location of the game is. Saint Mary’s will host the Gators in their own back yard on August 31. That’s right folks the first ever regular season game on campus on the new field and under the lights. This should make for a memorable evening and may be a vision of things to come. After the home game against the Gators, Saint Mary’s will host the Winnfield Tigers.
The following week will have the Tigers traveling to North Caddo before returning home to start district play against the Block Bears. Saint Mary’s will go on a three week road show against LaSalle, Montgomery and new non-district opponent North Webster. The regular season will conclude with a home stand against Northwood-Lena and district powerhouse Logansport. So the stage is set and the heat and humidity of late summer practices are a reality. School will be in session in a few short weeks and the gridiron Tigers look to continue their winning ways. It should be an interesting season for Saint Mary’s.
They have a new coach at school, a new offense, new talent rising and new helmet decals. It’s time to earn your stripes Tigers and as Coach York is fond of saying, “it’s a great day to be a TIGER.”