Finally Friday at stop number 11 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days where the St. Martin football program continues to raise the bar, but heading into the 2020 season it’s one step back, two steps forward for the Yellowjackets.
Head Coach Eddie Wayne Whitehead said, “A lot more is expected. Back in the day if you would’ve won seven games it would’ve been the greatest season. And now it’s like y’all didn’t do this and you didn’t do that, so it’s a lot more expectations and that’s what we like.” A victim of its own success, the St. Martin football program has gotten to the point where a winning season is no longer enough. Running back/ Inside linebacker Javon James said, “We hold ourselves to a standard that we should be in the playoffs every year. Yeah, we should be.”
In 2017, the Yellowjackets cut ties with their 13 year playoff drought and started a new streak in 2018 by going to the postseason in back to back years. With an overall record of 7-4, the 2019 campaign had all the makings of three in a row, but a 3-4 mark in region 4 class 6A left St. Martin on the outside looking in. Quarterback/ Free Safety Makia Herbert said, “Oh yeah, it’s definitely a goal this year. But last year was something that, I don’t know.”
“For us to finish 7-4, I think it was a really good season. The one game that I look back on was the Biloxi game. We’re up 14-7 with five minutes left I think and we got the ball on their side of the field. We end up fumbling and they take advantage and score twice and beat us. And that game, if we could’ve finished that game out it would’ve definitely changed our season around. You’re looking at 8-3 going to the playoffs and we’re talking about how great of a season it was.”
Now less than 72 hours away from their first official practice on Monday, the Yellowjackets are way past shoulda, coulda, woulda. On the flip side, wait, wait, wait, hold on a second, two years in a row. So, clearly athleticism isn’t a problem for St. Martin led by flippy mcflippster Makia Hebert at quarterback for the very first time.
He’s only attempted three passes in his entire high school career, but averaged more than 10 yards a clip on his 47 carries last year to go along with eight touchdowns. “We’ve got a lot of speed. We’ve got a lot of big people, too. The offensive line is straight. The wide receivers, a lot of speed.”
“I think we’ve got a lot of play makers on offense and I think the ball is going to be spread around. We don’t have one big name that’s going to carry us, but we’ve got a bunch of different guys that can play and make plays, and when it comes their time they’ve just got to do it.”
Opportunity knocks for St. Martin’s 19 seniors who have quite the wish list for the 2020 season. Starting with more wins than last year, the program’s first district crown and the program’s first playoff victory or at least that’s the new standard in year 10 of the Eddie Wayne Whitehead era. Wide receiver/ Cornerback D.J. Carney said, “We’ve got some new players coming in and this is my senior year, so I’ve got to turn up for my last one and most of my senior boys.”
“Yeah, we want to make it at least to state. We want to play for the state championship this year. That’s what we just keep telling each other. This is our last year, we’ve got to go out with something.”
“I think they feel like they’ve been a part of change here and I think they want to continue that and keep pushing forward and raise the bar higher.”
St. Martin opens the season on September 4th at St. Stanislaus, having to cancel its first two games at Forest Hill on August 21st and at home against Moss Point on August 28th.