Ball-control Flashes primed for pass-happy Cathedral|[09/21/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 21, 2007

St. Aloysius and Cathedral enter tonight’s grudgematch with similar season pedigrees.

Both teams are 1-2 and have defenses that have allowed at least 26 points per game so far this season. Both have offenses that have struggled some, but also showed signs of promise.

The most significant similarity, though, is that both are Catholic schools that love to beat up on one another on the football field.

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The latest installment of the long-running rivalry will kick off tonight at 7:30 in a Region 4-1A matchup. It will be the fourth straight region matchup for St. Aloysius, which is trying to build on last week’s 29-15 victory last Friday over Salem.

Cathedral, meanwhile, is coming off a heartbreaker that saw Pelahatchie drive for a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 26-24, the Irish had a chance to win the game, but a potential game-winning field goal missed wide giving the Chiefs the win.

“We couldn’t take advantage in the end,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley told the Natchez Democrat after the game. “I’m disappointed with the lack intensity we had tonight. We have some things to work on.”

Intensity is something that shouldn’t be a problem for tonight’s game. In every sport, when Cathedral and St. Aloysius meet, it will be fiery.

St. Al quarterback Chris Lewis has run for 157 yards on 35 carries and five touchdowns to lead the Flashes’ offense. Preston Edwards leads Cathedral with two rushing touchdowns and three passing TDs. Braxton Fondren caught three touchdowns in a loss to Salem and also scored on a 31-yard run against Pelahatchie.

The two teams met last season as non-division rivals with the Flashes taking an opening-game 12-7 victory. But much has changed since that game with the bulk of each team’s best players being lost to graduation.

“They do the same thing they’ve done for the past four or five years and that’s throw the ball about 80 percent of the time, and they do it well,” St. Al coach Jim Taylor said. “It’s a situation where we are going to have to play a good game to beat them.”

Most important is trying to find a way to get into the postseason. Bogue Chitto, Puckett and Mount Olive have distanced themselves early with unbeaten region records. Puckett is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press prep football poll and Mount Olive is ranked No. 2. Bogue Chitto, which defeated St. Al in the first game of the season, also is 3-0. Two teams are 2-1 and three teams, including the Flashes and Irish, are 1-2. Only the top four teams in each region advance to the postseason.