Late touchdown in 2001 sticks in Cathedral’s craw

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 8, 2002

St. Aloysius coach Jim Taylor talks with running back Michael Head during practice on Wednesday. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[11/08/02]The score was 51-7.

The rivalry between St. Aloysius and Natchez Cathedral didn’t start with the game, and it sure won’t end with today’s confrontation, but the score sure lit the wick for an explosive rematch.

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Cathedral coach Ken Beesley knows that the bad blood was there before he made his own mark in the series in 1969, but couldn’t explain why except to say that the games have always held something special.

“We’ve been playing each other for a long time,” Beesley said. “We had our way with them through the late ’80s and the early ’90s and won 12 straight.”

Though, for all his success in the rivalry, Beesley has yet to beat Flashes coach Jim Taylor in their four faceoffs, which, every other year it seems, has netted either a blowout victory or a game decided by a single touchdown.

As Flashes senior linebacker Walker Hengst recalls from his freshman year, “We beat them 42-14 on their homecoming at their place, and we just didn’t ease up on them at all. We kept our first string in the entire game.

“We like beating those guys.”

But the rivalry, at least for one more Friday, will revolve around the score, 51-7.

“This is a heated rivalry,” Beesley said. “They don’t care a whole lot about us, and I guess we don’t care a whole lot about them.”

The 2001 game had all the components for a St. Aloysius-Cathedral matchup. There were the little extra something’ in the hits, the bleachers crammed with parents screaming and coaxing the referee as though he held the outcome of the game in his whistle, and, on this particular year, there was the blowout.

St. Al had the ball on Cathedral’s 3-yard line leading 44-7 with 10 seconds remaining on the game clock. The Flashes’ huddle was littered with junior varsity players.

A freshman, his eyes as big as saucers and his mind running twice as quick as the time on the scoreboard, called a controversial timeout.

“He thought he was doing the right thing and called a timeout. We went ahead and ran a play and we scored,” Taylor said. “They’re probably a little bitter about that.”

Flashes quarterback Chad Cox adds, “They’re pretty much out for blood this time because of what we did last year. After that, they wouldn’t shake hands with us, so it’s bad blood.”

The bad blood boiled through the year with a series of events that can only be found in a rivalry:

Flashes’ parents were quoted as saying, “I don’t care what y’all do as long as y’all beat Natchez.” The sentiment runs both ways.

Scouting report notes with the thickness of telephone books and practices in the rain and dark.

After winning last year’s football game, the Flashes went on to dominate every sporting event of the year, including beating Cathedral in ten innings for the Division 6-1A title in baseball, as well as winning the South State championship series in three games. That series win vaulted the Flashes to the state championship series.

Which leads to the theme of this year’s 51-7 war cry.

“Some of our fans last year painted up full body in purple and gold at the South State finals. Three seniors, one had 51 painted on his chest, the other one had a dash and another one had a seven,” Hengst said. “They stood there across from (Cathedral) and cheered.

“It was really wild.”

The forecast for tonight’s game is expected to be continued pandemonium, and if the yearly fluctuation is accurate, expect a game decided by a single TD.

“It’s always a big game, and there’s a lot of emotions going through everybody. They get just as pumped up as we do,” Cox said. “Never know what’s going to happen.”