Flashes try to avoid slip-up vs. 0-2 Pirates

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 13, 2002

[09/13/02]When St. Aloysius coach Jim Taylor sat down to watch game film of Mount Olive this week, it was like he walked in halfway through a confusing movie.

Mount Olive, playing without three starters and three other players who were suspended for missing practice, was down 27-0 to Seminary three minutes into the game when the tape started. So, like a movie critic reviewing an awful film with a few good scenes, Taylor gave a mixed review to the 0-2 Pirates, who will face the Flashes Friday night at Balzli Field in the region opener for both teams.

“They have as good a talent as anybody we’re going to play. They’re 0-2 and look terrible on film. They have outstanding athletes, but look like they haven’t been clicking,” Taylor said. “It comes down to a thing where you’ve got to play well to not let them slip up on you.”

St. Al (2-0) hasn’t quite clicked yet, but it hasn’t exactly misfired either. The Flashes have outscored their first two opponents 55-8 and figure to have another fairly easy game against Mount Olive.

The Pirates start seven ninth-graders and a host of sophomores, coach Jackie Simpson said.

“Most of the time you’re going to see seven ninth-graders on the field,” Simpson said. “We’re OK. We’re going to fight you, and get better as the year goes on.”

Although the Pirates are young, they’re also fast. That may cause some problems for the Flashes, who have more size than speed.

“They have got speed. They recover quick on plays, and if you try to run a pass and disguise it as a run they catch on fast,” St. Al center Blaise McMinn said.

Athleticism can disguise some of Mount Olive’s shortcomings on defense, but it hasn’t on offense, Simpson said.

“We thought we were a passing team, but we haven’t done it so far. We haven’t blocked well up the field so far, either. So hopefully we can find out what it is we do on Friday night,” Simpson said.

The Flashes have also been trying to find their offensive identity, despite the two one-sided wins. Before the season, Taylor said he would implement a pass-based, spread offense.

That plan has fizzled, leaving the Flashes to slug it out on the ground. St. Al has rushed for nearly 600 yards in the two wins, forcing Taylor to stick with Plan B. Quarterback Chad Cox attempted only one pass in a 20-0 win over St. Andrew’s last week, and it was intercepted.

“We haven’t done very good on our new stuff. It’s going to come very slow being able to do stuff,” Taylor said. “The smartest thing to do is do what you do best, and right now that’s running it.”

The play of the offensive line has also caused Taylor to keep the ball on the ground. Their dominance has made it easy for running backs Greg Smith and Michael Head to pad their yardage totals.

“The linemen don’t get a whole lot of attention, the running backs do. Greg Smith and Michael Head ran for just about 300 yards combined last week, but the offensive line besides some busted assignments blocked very well,” Taylor said.