Flashes facing huge test from Bobcats

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2008

New St. Aloysius football coach B.J. Smithhart will have a tough opener when the Bogue Chitto Bobcats roll into Balzli Field tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

Bogue Chitto comes in as a preseason Top 5 team in Class 1A. The main reason is the return of quarterback Seth Avants. As a junior, Avants rushed for a Lincoln County-best 1,540 yards and 23 touchdowns. He added another 727 yards on 45-of-100 passing.

A good chunk of his rushing yardage came in last year’s season opener against the Flashes in Bogue Chitto. Avants scrambled for 172 yards and scored four touchdowns on runs of 35, 1, 40 and 5 yards. St. Al couldn’t answer and went on to lose, 34-6.

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“Avants is back for his senior season and he’s as fast as a rabbit,” Smithhart said. “They have a good team returning. They’re big.”

The Bobcats’ front line is keyed by returning All-Brookhaven Daily Leader lineman Fred Tillman (5-11, 260). The senior is a two-way starter for Bogue Chitto.

Smithhart, a former player at Warren Central, comes to St. Al from Stone High School in Wiggins. After watching last year’s game with Bogue Chitto, he’s hoping his new team can avoid the kind of mistakes that plagued them in the opener.

“They had a chance to tie the game up early and then had a penalty and then fumbled the ball on fourth down. Then later in the half, Avants got loose on another scramble and scored right before the half. Instead of being down just two scores, they were down three,” Smithhart said.

Getting off to a good start will be key.

“We’ll try to feel them out early and see how they adjust. The biggest thing is I’m hoping our defense is aggressive. We kind of let them do what they wanted. Avants is going to make a play. It’s up to us to see how we react to it,” Smithhart said.

The Flashes defense will be led by its three linebackers in Chris Lewis, Justin Hossmann and Brendan Beesley. Smithhart said he will use a rotation for his four down linemen in the 4-3 alignment.

Bogue Chitto uses a 3-5-3 alignment on defense. Smithhart said they looked good in a preseason scrimmage with Loyd Star last week.

St. Al will unveil its new spread offense against the Bobcats. Lewis is the triggerman at quarterback. Ryno-Martin-Nez is likely to be the primary ball carrier.

“Ryno is going to be in different formations, but I think he’ll have the most carries,” Smithhart said.