Struggling St. Al out to end scoreless streak

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2001

[10/19/01]It’s been a long time since St. Aloysius coach Jim Taylor has been with a team mired in a streak like his Flashes are in right now. It seems like it’s been even longer since the Flashes scored a touchdown.

It’s been almost a month since St. Al scored a point, a three-game, 12-quarter scoreless streak that has taken them from an unbeaten team with an eye on a playoff spot to a 4-3 team that has to beat Enterprise (6-1, 5-0 Region 4-1A) tonight to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

“It can be demoralizing, but I know we’re a better football team than that,” said Taylor, who has coached nearly 30 years, but can’t remember being with a team that went three games without scoring. “But I expect to move the football this week. That’s all there is to it. If we have to give it to the same guy 10 times in a row, we’ll do that.”

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Two of the shutouts came against No. 8 Bogue Chitto and defending state champion Mize, which are a combined 13-1 Bogue Chitto’s only loss was to No. 1 Mize and have given up a combined 117 points. The third was a 7-0 loss to Salem in a driving rainstorm that made moving the ball difficult for either team.

But St. Al’s offense has struggled despite the other factors. Fullback Justin Williams, who had 444 yards in the Flashes’ first four games, has rushed for just 214 yards in the last three.

As the passing game continued to struggle, St. Al also lost tailback Michael Head (324 yards, 4 TDs) to a cracked hip. Head may be out for the rest of the season. Michael Strickland, who was the starting tailback in two-a-days but has been nursing a groin injury all season, and Vincent Banchetti will pick up the slack.

“Our offense is just a little confused. I think we’ve got it all together now. I think the line is going to do a good job this week and we’re going to run over them,” said backup fullback Russ Nelson, also a defensive lineman.

Enterprise hasn’t had any such problems. The Yellowjackets have scored 230 points, fifth-best in Class 1A, and boast three running backs who weigh more than 200 pounds. Tailback Shermaine Vaughn rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, while senior fullback Bobby Smith rushed for 1,000 yards as a sophomore before missing last season with a torn ACL.

“They’ve got some chunky fellas. We’ve just got to hit them low and play until the whistle,” defensive lineman Kelly Sadler said.

Taylor said the battle in the trenches would decide the game, and he challenged his defensive line.

“I’m putting the monkey on defensive line play. If we don’t get some production from the defensive line, we’re going to have a tough night of it,” Taylor said.

If the Flashes don’t produce on either side of the ball they’ll probably find themselves sitting home in a few weeks when the playoffs start.

St. Al is tied for sixth place in Region 4-1A, with a 2-3 record. The top four teams make the playoffs, so a loss would crush the Flashes’ postseason dreams.

“We’ve still got our fate in our hands, barring nothing happens. We whip Enterprise, whip Dexter, whip West Lincoln and whip Cathedral, and we still make the playoffs,” Taylor said. “I already told the kids that anything can happen once you get in the playoffs. Our goal is to get there and then take it one step at a time.”