St. Al searching for first win vs. Saints’ odd offense

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2000

After an 0-2 start, St. Aloysius coach Jim Taylor is more concerned about his team’s mindset than the losses.

“The main thing is that we don’t get down on ourselves,” said Taylor, whose team has lost to non-division foes Greenville-St. Joe and Wesson. “I don’t have a problem being positive. I’m still looking for us to make the playoffs.

“These first games are important for us to feel good about ourselves, but they don’t have a thing to do with the standings.”

The Class 1A Flashes will try to get on track Friday night at St. Andrew’s, their third straight road game at a 2A school. And even though Taylor isn’t worried yet, he said that his team needs to taste success soon.

“We’re going back to basics, working on the little things,” he said.

The center-quarterback exchange, for instance. Taylor recalled one series from last week: “We had three snaps, two of them fumbles. You don’t get very far down the field like that.”

So St. Al, which has used the I- and Wing-T formations, will simplify things a bit.

“We want to work on a few plays, and just do them well … ,” Taylor said. “We’re not going to get fancy.”

The same can’t be said for the Saints (1-1), who borrowed a page from the ultimate Catholic school and installed the Notre Dame Box this year. That offense has scored an average of 29 points in the first two games under new head coach Dan Roach, who inherited a 2-8 team. It also does a little razzle-dazzle on kickoff and punt returns, with exchanges and reverses, Taylor said.

“They’re doing a lot of different things,” Taylor said.

Things don’t look too different at St. Al, which has won “the last several” meetings, Roach said.

“St. Al is always tough,” said Roach, a Saints assistant the last two seasons. “They always have a stable full of thoroughbreds, and they always turn them loose on us.

“I know they lost Carl Banchetti, but his brother Vincent looks just as tough,” he said of the St. Al fullback. Quarterback Ryan Hearn, wingback Clay Simmons, tailback Michael Strickland and receiver Michael Mazzanti also drew praise from Roach.

“That right tackle is hard to miss, too,” he added, referring to 6-foot-10, 315-pound Jay Biedenharn. “A couple of years ago, I think he outgrew his shoes on the way over here.

“They came in and asked if we had a spare pair of 16s. I said a spare pair of 16s?’ ” he recalled with a laugh. ” We might can tape two 8s together.’ ”

The Saints, who beat Bogue Chitto 38-19 in the opener and lost to Pisgah 41-20 last week, relies on four backs. Sherwood Colette (6-2, 195) scored three touchdowns Friday and John Fontaine had two in the opener. Quarterback Lee Hall and running back RaShard Johnson also make the Saints’ unique offense go.

Taylor said he didn’t try to simulate the Notre Dame Box for his defense to practice against this week.

“You just have to pick up your keys and follow the ball,” Taylor said. “That offense is all about misdirection.”

Roach said that his offensive coordinator, Barry Gibson, installed the offense this season after using it at schools in Florida, Tennessee and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“It’s a challenge for anyone who hasn’t seen it, and not many have,” Roach said. “Very few schools use it.”

There’s nothing fancy about Taylor’s offensive plan.

“We’re just going to try to take our power to them,” he said.