Flashes hit on all cylinders in win

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The thumping bassline of the Commodores’ “Brickhouse” over the stereo and the frenzied, jubilant voices from the St. Aloysius fieldhouse after Friday’s 41-16 pounding of visiting Salem on Friday spoke volumes.

The Flashes had a big reason to celebrate.

St. Al (1-3) erased a three-game losing streak to start the season. More importantly, the Flashes found an offensive identity thanks to dominant line play and knocked a Region 4-1A foe from the ranks of the unbeaten. Their defense came up with big play after big play and overmatched a bigger Salem team at the point of attack.

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While running back Carlton Campbell has been a go-to guy all season, the senior was never better than on Friday. He rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns and added a 37-yard kick return that set up another score. On defense, Campbell had an interception that he returned for a backbreaking touchdown in the third quarter that ignited a rout.

Campbell is a decisive, one-cut runner who wants to get north and south as quickly as possibly. While not the fastest tailback, his vision and decision-making in the open field led to big play after big play.

“Is there anything Carlton can’t do? Probably not,” senior center Robert Arledge said. “He’s a great athlete, a great guy. He’s by far one of the best players of the team. He’s the package. He’s what every team needs.”

But Campbell is quick to dismiss credit and spread the wealth.

“Our line did great, our quarterback (Carlisle Koestler) played great and our defense played great,” Campbell said. “It was a whole team effort. I couldn’t have done what I did without my line.”

Speaking of the offensive line, Arledge and his mates up front were dominant, sustaining blocks and giving Campbell and fullback John Austin Jones — who added eight carries for 37 yards and one touchdown — plenty of big holes to run through.

The Flashes stayed in a two-tight end, split-back shotgun set for most of the game and racked up 271 yards, mostly on the ground. Koestler had his best performance despite throwing only two passes. Both went for big gains, one on third-and-long to Blake Hudson and another to Forest Logue for another first down.

“It was a lineman’s win,” Arledge said. “This was a great game and the scoreboard said it.”

Defensively, the Flashes held Salem to a season-low 174 yards and forced three turnovers. But none was bigger than in the red zone as the first half was winding down and St. Al was clinging to a narrow 14-8 lead. Ke’undrae Williams ran into a cluster of St. Al defenders near the goal line. In what would become a trend, the Flashes ripped and stripped away the ball and Sage Lewis scooped it up to end the threat.

But the most important thing the Flashes gained besides a win was the confidence that they can and should be a dominant team. With the rest of the Region 4-A schedule ahead of them, it is confidence they sorely need if they want to contend for a playoff berth.

“We showed a lot to our district,” Arledge said. “We showed we’re a good ball team.”

St. Al takes on Dexter, another team from Tylertown, on Friday at Balzli Field.

Dexter, one of the preseason favorites in Region 4-1A, has stumbled out of the gate. The Bulldogs lost to University Christian, 25-14, last Friday to fall to 0-3 on the season.