The tides are starting to turn at stop number 14 on News 25’s ’25 Teams in 25 Days.’ All of a sudden, St. Martin is becoming a regular in the class 6A playoffs, but the program is still in search of that milestone victory.
Left guard/nose guard Dustin Lucky said, “You have to one up it. You have to at least get one step further. We made it to the first round, we’re shooting for second round at least.”
St. Martin has come a long way from its 13-year playoff drought, now having been to the post-season two years running. Linebacker Chaz Pylate said, “Well, of course before everybody was like they ain’t going to make it. We’ve always never made it. But now that we have and we know we can, everybody expects it. So it’s kind of one of those, now we’ve got to lead up and do even better than we did the year before.”
Last year, the Yellowjackets punched their ticket to the post-season in the final week of district play with a statement road victory at D’Iberville. Led by its record 2019 signing day class, St. Martin was then just a dropped pick-six away from shocking Brandon yet again on the road in the first round of the 6A playoffs. Head Coach Eddie Wayne Whitehead said, “That’s how close it is, making one play. And Brandon — at the time — was the number one team in the state and we were right there with them. And if we win that game, who knows.”
All those what if’s aside, the Yellowjackets appear to be poised for a third straight playoff run behind their 19-member senior class.
On the flip side, St. Martin is returning just five starters from the year before compared to its 2018 roster that brought back all 11 starters on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Pat Greer said, “A lot of people don’t think we’re going to be that good this year. And we know that we have some talented kids and some people that work hard, and I think we’re going to have a good year.”
“This group knows that they have to play together. We don’t have D1’s knocking down the door to see our lineman. We don’t have 6-foot-5, 320 (pounds). We’re going to be 5-foot-7, 200 (pounds). So we have to give it our max effort and we have to work together.”
Gone are the likes of Brandon Cunningham to Mississippi State, leaving the Yellowjackets to form a new identity in 2019. This year, they’re basing everything on effort and attitude as they strive to do what no St. Martin team has ever done before: win a playoff game. “I’m trying to outdo my brothers that left me last year. And I mean they set the bar kind of high, but I think we can still do it.”
“The kids have been there, we’ve been there back-to-back. So I really believe this group feels that we can make it three years in a row. And hopefully we get that first playoff win. And like I said, I’ve been in it long enough to once you get on the right roll, you don’t have to be the best team in the state. You’ve just got to be the best team that Friday night. So anything can happen.”
The Yellowjackets are lining up to be a more balanced offense through the air in 2019 with St. Stanislaus transfer Pat Greer under center.
St. Martin will open up the new campaign on August 23rd at home against Forest Hill.