ST. MARTINVILLE — Both the District 6-3A opener and homecoming are on tap this week at St. Martinville, which finally gets to pick on an opponent its own size when 1-4 Abbeville visits Friday.
The Tigers are 2-3 with losses to Class 5A Lafayette High and a pair of 4A teams — Breaux Bridge and Carencro — with identical 4-1 records.
St. Martinville was the preseason district favorite over Kaplan, which has reached the semifinals four straight seasons, while Abbeville was picked to finish last.
“Abbeville is a solid team,” SMHS head coach Vincent DeRouen said. “Their quarterback (Jaidyn O’Brien) is really athletic. They’re aggressive and fly to the ball pretty well.”
Last week, the Tigers struggled to stop Carencro’s running attack, which produced two 200-yard rushers in a 58-19 victory for the Bears.
After falling behind 20-6, SMHS battled back and trailed only 27-19 in the second quarter before Carencro scored 31 unanswered points.
“I wasn’t impressed with how we played,” DeRouen said. “In the second half, I felt that we gave up a little bit. I was disappointed with that, but we’ve had a good week of practice.
“The kids do it big for homecoming. They’ve been staying up late with homecoming activities so hopefully, we can get them focused.”
SMHS is seeded 15th in 3A in the latest power rankings released by Louisiana Sportsline. That’s well ahead of district rivals Kaplan (28), Crowley (30), Erath (37) and Abbeville (39).
“We’ve played some good teams,” said DeRouen, whose club earned its two victories over 4A opponents Cecilia and Northside. “Breaux Bridge and Carencro, especially, are both really, really good. Hopefully, that prepared for us for what we’re getting into right now with the district. That was our plan from the get-go.
“We just didn’t think we’d get whipped so badly. We knew we’d be alright in the power rankings. That was strategic on our part. We just thought we’d have a better showing. We didn’t tackle well at all on Friday. Offensively, I thought we moved the ball well early.
“We did what we wanted to, but when we got down at the end of the half, that put us behind where he had to go to chunking the ball. That’s not our plan at all.”
Against Carencro, quarterback Tanner Harrison completed 8 of his first 10 attempts and finished with 265 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 84 yards on 13 carries.
“He was confident early,” DeRouen said of the sophomore. “When we got to where we had to throw all the time, he struggled a little bit. He’s coming into his own some so hopefully, we’ll see some good things in the future. We have to move past the first half of the season and turn it on now.”
After Carencro scored on the first play from scrimmage, the Tigers answered with a 58-yard pass to Latrevon Wiltz, who has made some big plays on offense.
“Wiltz started out as a receiver earlier in his career,” DeRouen said. “We moved him to defensive back, but he still does a good job at receiver for us. We’re just waiting for him to play a lot better on the defensive side.”