Flashes look to rebound against Pisgah

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2008

It’s been said that for every action, there’s a reaction. A yin and a yang. When one person benefits, another suffers misfortune.

Although it’s a bit cosmic to apply to football, it’s as good a reason as any to explain the different fortunes of St. Aloysius and Pisgah this season. While St. Al has eked out wins in close games, Pisgah has lost them. When St. Al’s offense was surging, Pisgah’s was struggling. And as Pisgah’s offense has surged, St. Al’s has slumped.

It’s a battle of opposites that will come to a head tonight, when the teams meet in a key Region 3-1A game in Rankin County.

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“They’re good. They could’ve beaten Pelahatchie, and Pelahatchie is a tough football team. Whoever makes more plays is going to win,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said.

Pisgah started slow, but has come on strong the last three games. After being shut out twice in the first three games by region powers Puckett and Mount Olive, the Dragons (2-4) scored 109 points in their next three games. Unfortunately, they lost two of them to fall to 2-4 in the region. One more loss would all but eliminate them from playoff contention.

And Pisgah’s losses haven’t been ordinary. Stringer scored a late touchdown to pull away in a 48-35 victory. Two weeks later, Pelahatchie scored in the final minute for a 28-21 win.

“It’s been real close, a play or two away here and there. It’s been that kind of year,” Pisgah coach Marc Herrington said. “You get frustrated. You think you’re snakebit. You try to keep the kids positive, but it’s hard.”

St. Al (4-2, 4-2), meanwhile, has been on the other side of those close games. Two weeks in a row they scored in the final minute to beat Cathedral and Pelahatchie. Even with last week’s 35-7 loss to Puckett, the Flashes are still in fourth place in the region and control their own destiny for a playoff spot.

“Of course you want to win them all. But we’ve got a fighting chance and we don’t need help from anybody. We don’t have to have people lose, we just have to win,” Smithhart said. “We’ve got a real competitive region. You’ve got six or seven teams that are fighting for four spots.”

St. Al has also seen its offensive production dip in the last two weeks, although it may have had more to do with playing stronger teams than a slumping attack. After scoring 31 or more points in three straight games, the Flashes have managed a total of 23 the last two weeks.

That should change this week against a Pisgah team that’s given up points almost as fast it has scored them. In the three-game stretch where it scored 109 points, Pisgah allowed 103. For the season, the Dragons are allowing an average of 32 points a game.

With a St. Al offense that has shown it can score, that could mean a high-scoring shootout tonight.

“It could go either way. I’m thinking it’ll be in the 20s like it was against Pelahatchie last week,” Herrington said. “Our defense stepped up in the third quarter for us in that one. We had a couple of turnovers.”

Smithhart said he’d be just as happy with a defensive battle as a shootout — as long as his team wins.

“I think we can move the football. Ain’t nothing going to be easy, though,” Smithhart said. “If we win it, I don’t care how we win it. If it’s 2-0 and we win on a safety, that’s fine.”