Flashes’ goal: Keeping up with the McNairs|[11/02/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 2, 2007

Forget about the Joneses. The chore for the St. Aloysius Flashes this week is keeping up with the McNairs.

St. Al faces second-ranked Mount Olive and its famous first family of football tonight at Balzli Field. Quarterback Julius McNair had 222 total yards and three touchdowns last week against Pelahatchie. Tailback Jason McNair is eight touchdowns short of the state record. And wide receiver Steve McNair Jr. is a deep threat.

All three are relatives of former Alcorn State and current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair — Steve Jr. is his son, Jason a nephew, and Julius a cousin.

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Keeping track of which is almost as tough as stopping them.

“They’re just overwhelming with all the speed they’ve got. Their speed counts on offense and defense. They run and throw the ball well and get up the field on defense,” St. Al coach Jim Taylor said. “We’ve just got to play a real good game to expect to win. We’re going to make that effort for sure. They’ve just got so many weapons.”

And St. Al is without one of its biggest ones.

Chip Donald, a receiver and defensive back, suffered a neck injury in last week’s win over West Lincoln. Donald was not seriously hurt, but an MRI revealed a narrow spinal column that could lead to future injury. Donald said he will play basketball for the Flashes this winter, but will not play football again.

“I’m disappointed. I was hoping to play in college somewhere,” said Donald, who has more than 500 total yards from scrimmage this season.

Even without Donald, St. Al (4-5, 4-4 Region 4-1A) has some weapons. Quarterback Chris Lewis had his third 100-yard rushing game of the season against West Lincoln, while tailbacks Justin Hosemann and Clayton Holmes have both surpassed the 400-yard mark. Lewis also has almost 700 passing yards.

It’ll still be hard to match Mount Olive’s arsenal of McNairs, though.

“All three of them are great athletes, and I always tell people what great kids they are, too,” Mount Olive coach Jackie Simpson said. “It is kind of embarassing for them, the attention. But if we take (Jason) out, he runs and gets the water bottles for everybody else. He’s just that kind of kid.”

This game is both meaningful and meaningless for both teams. St. Al’s playoff hopes were dashed long ago, but it can still finish with a .500 record by splitting its last two games. Mount Olive, meanwhile, can still finish second in the region and host a playoff game. To do that, it must beat third-place Bogue Chitto next week — regardless of what happens tonight.