Flashes find success on special teams

Published 11:55 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There were a lot of reasons for St. Aloysius to be frustrated on Friday night.

Turnovers and missed opportunities spoiled a spirited effort and led to a 28-0 loss to archrival Cathedral that was more competitive than the score indicated.

Amidst the disappointment, though, there was at least one bright spot. St. Al’s special teams came up with a number of big plays throughout the game. Big returns gave the team great field position and some momentum, especially early on.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The Flashes averaged 31.8 yards on kick returns, converted a fake punt for a first down and got enough pressure on Cathedral kicker Lee Fairbanks to force a missed field goal in the second quarter.

“Our guys were blocking harder than they usually do,” St. Al coach B.J. Smithhart said. “Every game has to be at this intensity. It can’t just be when we play Cathedral.”

Carlton Campbell was the key to the Flashes’ special teams success. He returned four kicks — three kickoffs and one punt — for a total of 129 yards. His 51-yard return on the opening kickoff and a 37-yard punt return in the second quarter both led to first-and-goal situations, but the offense was unable to punch it in either time.

Campbell, who also serves as St. Al’s punter and starting tailback, later freelanced on a punt attempt in the third quarter. Seeing an opening to the left, he took off around the edge and ran 33 yards for a first down on fourth-and-12.

Smithhart said the run wasn’t a called fake, but that he was OK with Campbell trying it.

“He’s got the green light if he sees it,” Smithhart said. “It’s just a player making a play.”

It was part of a 118-yard rushing night for Campbell, but like a lot of his other heroics went for naught. Quarterback Carlisle Koestler mishandled a shotgun snap on the next play and Cathedral recovered at its own 25-yard line.

That fumble was the third of five turnovers on the night for St. Al. Three of the turnovers came inside the Cathedral 25, another was near St. Al’s own 25 and led to a Cathedral touchdown, and the other resulted in a long return that led to a quick score.

The turnovers, as well as the failures near the goal line, turned a potential upset into a lopsided loss and tempered whatever other successes the Flashes enjoyed. Now, with a 1-6 record and only four games left in the season, time is running out on the team to find something to smile about.

The Flashes will head to Pascagoula to play Resurrection on Saturday night. Games with Region 4-1A frontrunners Bogue Chitto and Stringer, as well as a struggling Mount Olive team — still the defending Class 1A champions despite a 1-6 record — also loom down the stretch.

“We don’t think much of moral victories. Now we’ve got a long trip next week. We’ve got to finish on some of these opportunities,” Smithhar said. “We’ve got to take the positives, build on them, and fix what we’re doing wrong.”