The St. James football Tigers are set to kick off the 2019 season with returning veterans as well as new talent.

The St. James football Tigers are set to kick off the 2019 season with returning veterans as well as new talent.

The Tigers were 6-5 last season as they earned a 4-2 conference record.

The team is led this season by Josh Rodriguez, who is in his second year as the head coach. He has a 15-28 coaching record overall while coaching at the high school level.

With a brand new season on the horizon, it will mainly be business as usual on the field with a few adjustments to fit the strength of the team.

“We will not be changing much as far as schemes go but will do different things that will play to the strength of this group of players,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is assisted this season by Dusty Craft, Kevin Conway, Zane Garr, Beau Moreland, Andrew Boggs.

The Tigers have five offensive starters and four defensive players returning to the squad to build on last year's team. St. James may be a little young in 2019, but being competitive is a step the head coach is looking for this group to make.

“We will be very young in some areas and our focus is to begin the season to learn how to be competitive while learning the process of what it takes to be successful," Rodriguez noted. "It will be a season where our guys may have a lot of ups and downs as they get experience, but we want to stay focused on the process.”

Nick Halbrook returns as a key part of the team in the wide receiver/defensive back position after his 15 receptions for 238 yards and three touchdowns on the offensive side to go with four interceptions on defense. Tight end and outside linebacker Rustin Branum gives a big boost this year after his 86 tackles and two sacks last season. Logan Saxbury added 40 tackles to the team from the strong safety position as well. Center Nolan Bell and starting tackle Keegan Fitch also add a strong element to the team's leadership.

Newcomers to the team include senior Fred Watson who will play on the line, sophomore Logan Sparks adds a spark to the tight end and defensive back slots. Sophomore Payton Maylee, junior Zach Achterberg, and sophomore Chandler Tinsley will all play at the running back and linebacker positions.

Other new varsity athletes this season are junior Tony Brown who will play both sides of the ball as a wide receiver and cornerback. Junior Levi Hutton, sophomore Lucas Morehouse, and sophomore Seth Keeney will play on both sides of the line this season to hold down their opponents.

For Rodriguez and company, it is simply one game at a time.

"We only focus on the opponent that we have that week. Our goal is to be 1-0 every week and nothing before that game or any teams in the future matter,” he noted.

The Tigers will take to the field on August 30th as they face the neighboring Salem Tigers at 7 p.m., in St James. The team will then travel to Perryville and Herman in the next two weeks. St James will host the Owensville Dutchmen on September 30 and the Cuba Wildcats the following week on the 27th.

St. James will close the second half of its season with two road games against St. Clair and Sullivan in conference play. The final two games of the regular season will be in town against Union on October 18 and the Pacific Indians on the 25th.