Riverside, Flashes going for first wins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2000

St. Aloysius and Riverside come into tonight’s game with bruised bodies and bruised egos. Both are coming off hard-fought losses that dropped them to 0-3 on the season.

“I’m most surprised of anyone that we’re 0-3,” St. Al coach Jim Taylor said. “I thought for sure we’d at least be 2-1 at this time.”

For the fourth straight week, the Class 1A Flashes will be playing a 2A team. The difference this week is the Flashes will be at home.

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“I’m certainly tired of stepping over chains and dodging first-down markers,” Taylor said with a chuckle. “I’m looking forward to not having to ride a hot bus somewhere.”

Riverside coach Eddy Calhoun, on the other hand, is happy to be on the road. The sparse crowds in Avon, just outside of Greenville, aren’t always supportive, he said.

“They haven’t won here in years, so a lot of the folks talk bad about them,” said Calhoun, in his second year over the Bulldogs. “We’re working hard on the attitude around here.”

Same goes for Taylor, whose teams got off to 6-1 starts in 1998 and 1999, his first two years at St. Al.

“Our biggest battle is keeping a good attitude, keeping our objective in order,” he added.

That hasn’t been a problem this week. The Flashes have been business-like in practice, Taylor said.

“They’ve been more intense,” he said. “Last week was an emotional game. We talked after it … and told them that we don’t need excuses anymore.”

What may hurt St. Al is a somewhat hobbled Michael Strickland, who has been nursing a knee injury for two weeks. It didn’t stop him from rushing for 121 yards in an 11-7 loss at St. Andrew’s last week. Backup quarterback Dan Muirhead hasn’t practiced all week after banging up his shoulder against the Saints. The Flashes will, however, have defensive lineman Carter Sessums back from a knee injury.

Taylor has been pleased with his team’s defense, which is giving up just under 17 points per game. Problem is, the offense is scoring less than nine.

“We only had one breakdown on defense last week,” Taylor said. “We had opportunities on offense to put them away early, but we didn’t.”

The Flashes “moved the ball in spurts,” but got derailed by penalties and fumbles.

“If we’ll just execute our basic plays, I think we’ll be OK,” Taylor said.

Calhoun will be minus four starters after losing to Shaw 10-0 last week. It was the Bulldogs’ best effort of the young season. They lost to Ackerman 59-0 in the opener and Greenville-St. Joe 35-8 two weeks ago. The Flashes fell to the Irish, 16-12.

Freshman quarterback J.T. Taylor will be making his first start for the Bulldogs. Brandon Hudspeth, a receiver, punter and kicker, will also miss. Leading rusher Tim Bailey will be out with a bruised rib, linebacker Kevin McCulllough is out and leading tackler Mike Sullivan broke his hand last week but may try to play.

“We promise to try to make it a game,” said Calhoun, who, like Taylor, is from Benton. “We probably match up pretty good. A team backed against the wall like us can be dangerous.

“One of us is going to go home happy,” Calhoun said, adding with a laugh, “I wish there was a way both of us could get a win. But we can’t, so I’d just as soon (Taylor) get his next week.”