NEW ORLEANS — For 13 games, St. Mary’s battled through the gauntlet to reach its first LHSAA title game since 1980.
However, the Tigers ran up against a faster, more athletic Southern Lab team that defeated them, 36-2, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Friday.
“I think it was just Southern Lab, that was our biggest challenge,” St. Mary’s coach Lee Doty said. “They’re huge up front. They were catching our trap from the backside. Nobody’s been able to do that to us all year. We had trouble moving the ball.”
St. Mary’s (13-1) had heavy pressure from the Kitten defense early and often, only gaining 105 yards on the day and having nine of its first 10 drives resulting without a first down.
The short field allowed the Kittens to score touchdowns on four of their first five drives and to put away the game early.
Southern Lab senior Curtlan Williams set the tone by returning the Tigers’ first punt 45 yards, while it scored twice on one-play drives — one for 70 yards and another for 45.
Williams was named the Kittens’ Most Valuable Player after catching four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. He also added a interception to go along with that punt return for a touchdown.
Despite the loss, Doty was happy for his team and what they accomplished all season.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re full of pride,” Doty said. “We’re so proud of our kids. I promise you this: When we walk out of here, we’re still going to be together. I know somewhere down the line, all of these guys will say, ‘Wow, look what we did.’ Right now is not that time, but I promise you this, some point in time, we’re going to say ‘Wow.'”
Senior defensive lineman Josh Lucky was named the Tigers’ MVP after recording three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
“We were watching a lot of film last week and we found out that their right offensive tackle was a little bit slower than everyone else, so I went to end,” Lucky said. “They’re big. They’re probably the biggest I’ve gone against.”
The win gives the Kittens their fifth title and their first since 1996 when it defeated Kentwood, 36-33, in a double-overtime game.
“I just want to commend these guys on the great job all season long,” Southern Lab coach Marcus Randall said. “This senior group has done so many things for this school and Southern Lab family. Bringing the championship sealed the deal for these guys.
Southern Lab (11-3) gained 266 yards from scrimmage.