ST. MARTINVILLE — The St. Martinville Tigers scored a ton of points last year.
In 11 of 13 games, the Tigers put at least 30 points on the board en route to a 12-1 season and a berth in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
SMHS averaged almost 42 points per game with its lowest output coming in two 28-point victories.
Although the Tigers lost three key offensive skill players including the leading rusher, the leading receiver, and the starting quarterback, a huge part of their offense is returning for his senior season: first-team all-state offensive lineman Michael Pete.
SMHS squandered a 10-point ead with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in a wild, 53-49 loss to Leesville in the playoffs, and that devastating defeat has left the returning players hungry.
“In the offseason, it just pushed everybody harder,” Pete said. “I think we see it as motivation so we can get past the round we made it to last year.
“We still haven’t gotten over that loss. We’re working on stuff so we can specifically improve on things that hurt us in that game.”
One of the team’s bread-and-butter plays last year involved running the football behind a pulling Pete, who is deceptively quick at 6-foot-5, 285-pounds.
“Pulling on run plays is one of my specialties,” he said. “I’m aggressive and I take a lot of pride in run-blocking.”
Pete has gotten considerably larger after being listed last year at 6-3, 255 lbs.
“A lot of colleges haven’t offered yet but they’re looking at me,” he said.
“I have only played one year of varsity so they’re looking to see what I do my senior year.”
After lining up at guard as a junior, Pete could see time at another position.
“I’m supposed to play left tackle some this year,” he said. “I’m used to tackle.”
He’s not resting on his laurels, either.
“I still have a lot of improvements to make and a long way to go despite the accomplishments of last year,” he said.
Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Houston, and Texas Southern are among the schools keeping an eye on Pete, who says the Tigers should be well-stocked at running back despite the loss of 2,000-yard rusher Travien Benjamin.
“The running backs are good,” he said. “They’ve been working hard all summer to get the job done.”
The Tigers open the regular season at home against parish rival Cecilia, which was in SMHS’ district before the Tigers dropped down to Class 3A.
St. Martinville is No. 4 in the LHSAA preseason 3A rankings.