Cenla Summer Camp: St. Mary’s Tigers
NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - The St. Mary’s Tigers are coming off a 9-2 season along with a quarterfinal appearance for the first time since 2017.
“After six years with the same kids, they know your expectations and routines,” said St. Mary’s head coach Aaron York. “They have goals they set ahead of them this year, and they are ready to go.”
The district 3-1A champions are known for their tight-knit squad, but there will be few changes on the offensive side this season.
The Tigers’ veteran signal-caller for the last three years, Adam Parker, graduated and will be playing at the next level at Southern Arkansas.
“It has been a process, obviously, I haven’t played quarterback all my life,” said St. Mary’s new signal caller, Mixon Bankston. “Over the spring, Coach York and I worked at it a lot, and I had receivers that stayed to throw to.”
“I think Adam has been a great mentor for Mixon, and I think the connection will continue because Mixon has worked at this every year in past, but no one has ever seen it,” said senior receiver Ethan Busby.
Bankston along with nine other seniors are seasoned in all three phases of the game, which has become a threat to many.
Four different Tigers earned a spot in almost every category in CenlaPreps’ best-returning players.
“We have a lot of weapons on the outside with Nate, Payne, Ben Busby and Drake on the inside,” said Bankston.
St. Mary’s outscored their opponents 435-98 last season and averaged around 39.5 per matchup.
“Our defense has come a long way, and I think our defense is going to be superior this year,” said senior linebacker and tight end Ben Bienvenu.
The Tigers are returning seven starters on offense and eight on defense.
“I feel like our energy is up, our physicality is up and we all just know it like the back of our hand, so it is going to be good,” said Busby.
St. Mary’s returns seasoned linebacker and tight end Ben Bienvenu, who missed most of last season due to an off-the-field injury but is sure to create havoc.
“Getting him back, that is another weapon we can throw to, and defensively that is another anchor in the middle of our defense that we can put out there,” said Coach York. “He will get you 60 to 70 tackles a year.”
“It is tough two-a-days, but I really enjoy it,” said Bienvenu. “I was in a position where I would die just to be out there and suffering, so I really enjoy it, I really do.”
As Coach York enters his 6th season at the helm of the Tigers’ ambush, he believes with the experience and versatility they have, this will be one of his most talented teams.
“They know me, and I know them and that can be a good thing and bad thing,” said York when asked about his veteran playmakers. “We have that familiarity that you are able to build off of and add new wrinkles that you normally wouldn’t with a team.”
St. Mary’s is looking to not only clinch their third district title in five years, but this time they are ready to make it to the dome and win it all for the first time since 1977.
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