News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: St. Martin Yellowjackets
Checking in as stop number eight on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days is a program that recently had a streak of eight straight non-losing seasons.
But St. Martin is looking to start a new run this year, coming off a disappointing 2020, simply setting the stage for a bigger the setback, bigger the comeback scenario in 2021.
Tight end/ Linebacker Damon Burnham said, “People eat, sleep and grind this stuff, man. We’re ready. We’re hungry, and especially these fellow classmates that are graduating with this 2022 class, man, I’m ready for it.”
There’s a fresh vibe ahead of St. Martin’s 2021 season and it starts with a coaching staff that has five new faces, by far the largest turnover of the Eddie Wayne Whitehead era. “We got new coaches, coaches been riding everybody this year during the summer. It’s really been hard work, but I know it’s going to pay off in the long run.”
Coach Whitehead said, “It’s always good when you get new voices in, and got some younger guys coaching that can probably relate with the kids more.”
Perhaps the biggest change is in the offensive scheme as a part of the brand-new playbook implemented by the OC from OS, offensive coordinator Ty Smith. “We’re multiple, ain’t that a good answer?”
Running back/ free safety Aden Burney said, “We’ve been running the same playbook for a while now, so switch it up on them, think it’ll help a lot coming into this season.”
“I’d lie if I said I didn’t like passing and airing it out and throwing touchdowns, but you’ve got to do what you’re best at and what you’re built to do, and we think that’s going to be running the football.”
Even more multiple than St. Martin’s playbook, Florida State commit and sophomore Swiss Army knife Noreel White. His 500 plus all-purpose yards leads all returning players from last year’s team so when the future division I signee isn’t mossing people in the endzone, he’s busy doing literally everything else. “Receiver, cornerback, but he’s going to play some safety, some linebacker. He’ll get a little quarterback rep, some running back reps, slot receiver. Kick return, punt return. Probably pretty much everywhere except the O-line.”
Armed with high-end versatility and about half their returning starters, but also some high-end motivation. Last season, half of St. Martin’s wins came via COVID-19 forfeiture en route to a 4-7 overall record.
The Yellowjackets closed strong in a hard-fought loss to region 4 class 6A champion D’Iberville, but the end result was still the program’s first losing season since 2012. “We had a lot of games canceled, so a lot of those were just wins were given to us, but we want to come back and show them that we can do it.”
“A lot of people doubting us from last year. I mean we look at it like a lesson. We look at it like it’s something we’re not going to argue with everybody about. We just look at it like we’ve got to prove them and ourselves wrong.”
“They know that last year we had a disappointing season, as far as what we were expecting. It was our first losing season in nine years, and it’s not something that we want to happen, so we definitely want to get it back on the plus winning side, making the playoffs and seeing how far we can go.”
Despite an overwhelmingly successful decade on the gridiron, St. Martin is still in search of its first-ever post-season victory. If the class of 2022 is the one to finally make history, they’ll be doing so with about 15 seniors that say football and family are one in the same. “Everybody in St. Martin is a really big family.”
“Wearing this Jackets uniform and putting on this helmet each game, it’s going to be one family.”
“It would be huge to check it off. Don’t want to get that one ahead of the other ones, but we’ve got to get there first and then we’ll check that one off.”
St. Martin kicks off its 2021 campaign at home against Stone on August 27th.