St. Al-Cathedral rivalry to reach fever pitch today

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cathedral and St. Aloysius are separated by 73 miles, but the gulf between the schools might as well be the distance from here to China.

It’s a rivalry that has burned hotter than the bhut jolokia, rated by the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s hottest chilli pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

This academic year might be the best one of the rivalry. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.

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During football season, Pierson Waring drilled a 25-yard field goal in a morass of mud and Luke Burnett’s clutch interception in the end zone preserved a 10-7 victory by St. Al at Cathedral.

Today, while attention of the fanbases is focused on the Class 1A South State title baseball series, which starts at 6 p.m. in Natchez, there will be another venue where purple will collide with green: on the golf course.

The two golf teams will do battle for the Class 1A state championship just a few miles from Chester Willis Field at the Beau Pré Country Club.

St. Al is the three-time defending state champion and is the 1,000-pound gorilla of Class 1A golf. In last year’s Class 1A state tournament at Bay Pointe in Brandon, the Flashes lapped the field by 99 strokes.

Let that phrase sink in slowly. To call that an overmatch is like saying that next year’s Alabama-Georgia State game at Bryant-Denny Stadium is going to be a close-run affair. Not so much.

This year’s St. Al team is deeper than James Earl Jones’ voice. Or the Marianas Trench. Or the debt load of Greece.

Nearly every one of the golfers on this year’s squad has won medalist honors in one tournament. If one of the group, made up of last year’s state tournament medalist Chris Ingram, Nick Mekus, Elliott Bexley, Harris McKay or Fisher Campbell, struggle, one or two of the others will pick up the slack.

As for baseball, the Flashes were outscored 23-5 in their two regular-season matchups with the Green Waves. Ouch.

Cathedral hit St. Al at its lowest point of the season, a 2-6 skid that made Trustmark Park seem a lot further distant than 35 miles.

But this is a different St. Al team that will take the field in Natchez. Its confidence level, thanks to the return of Justin Rushing and Ryno Martin-Nez, is sky-high after besting Edinburg fireballer Mitchell Wooten in the first round and sweeping Nanih Waiya in the second.

The Flashes aim for a return trip to Trustmark Park and again, the road runs through Cathedral. The Flashes ended the Green Waves’ undefeated run with a 15-6 beatdown in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series and struck the mortal blow with a heartening 7-6 win in eight classic innings in Game 2.

So this time, the rivalry won’t be just for bragging rights on both the diamond and on the links. With a pair of titles at stake, expect the rivalry to log its best chapter.

Steve Wilson is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor or reach him at or at 601-636-4545, extension 142.