St. Al keeps on trucking toward playoffs|Flashes look for happy homecoming

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

St. Aloysius has spent the last eight weeks getting in position to make a run at the playoffs. Its last two games, against two of the teams it’s battling for a spot, will determine its fate.

As long as it doesn’t mess around this week.

The Flashes (6-2, 5-2 Region 4-1A) face woeful West Lincoln (0-8, 0-7) on Friday in a homecoming contest that, on paper, should be an easy romp. In terms of St. Al’s playoff hopes, however, it’s just as important as the looming games with Stringer and Mount Olive to come. Lose to West Lincoln, and those other games become meaningless.

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“This is a mini-playoff because if you lose this one, you’re done,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said. “We’re taking it just like they’re Stringer or Mount Olive or Puckett, or any of them.”

That would be wise, since St. Al’s margin for error has been razor thin this season. It has won four of its last five games by eight points or less, and three of them by scoring the winning touchdown in the final minute of regulation or overtime.

The latest heartstopper was a 24-17, double-overtime victory over Madison-St. Joe last week. Chris Lewis, a senior who had been the starting quarterback for 2 1/2 seasons, switched to tailback for that game and rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Flashes.

“We’re a senior team. We’ve got 12 seniors and 30-something players, so a third of our team is seniors and they want it really bad,” Smithhart said. “They might not play a perfect game but they find a way. And it’s usually one of those seniors or upperclassmen that does it.”

Lewis’ switch to tailback — a move precipitated by a season-ending thumb injury to Ryno Martin-Nez — means the Flashes will rely on a junior at quarterback. Regan Nosser took over for Lewis last week and completed 4 of 12 passes for 57 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.

Nosser had been the backup QB since the start of last season, and also played receiver. He said it took a few snaps to get adjusted to playing quarterback full time.

“It was comfortable after about the start of the second quarter,” Nosser said. “I’m just always ready because (Lewis) can get hurt on any play.”

Although he’s trying not to take West Lincoln lightly, Smithhart admitted this would be a good week to let Nosser throw a little more and get comfortable under center.

“The only way to get better is to throw the ball in a game,” Smithhart said. “It’s hard to simulate the way things are going to open up.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at