Winless Flashes begin district play against Hartfield

Published 10:06 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Frustration continues to run through the St. Aloysius locker room. The Flashes are still winless through their first four games of the season.

After joining the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools in July, the Flashes take on their first District 3-AAA opponent when they host Hartfield Academy Friday night.

“It’s a big game, first district game for us for the year and we just need to win it,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said. “These are the games that mean something and we just have to get after it. These games definitely count more for postseason implication.”

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Smithhart said the jury is still out on the level of play in the new conference. The Flashes have played two MAIS teams in Cathedral — another MAIS newcomer that St. Al regularly played in the MHSAA — and Washington School. Cathedral beat St. Al 31-6 in the season opener, and Class AAAA Washington won last week’s game 40-13.

“They’re a big school. Probably equate to a big 2A or 3A MHSAA school so it’s still kind of hard to tell,” Smithhart said of Washington. “This will be our first MAIS opponent our size.”

The Hawks are 2-2 overall, 1-0 in the district, and have dropped every other game since their season opener against Tri-County. They’ve given up 67 points to their opponents through four games.

Smithhart thinks Friday’s game will be fairly even.

“We know they’re going to be in a 4-3 on defense and a they’re going to be a spread team on offense,” Smithhart said. “They do a good job of the big passing play and running the ball at you. The quarterback does a really good job within the offense.”

The Flashes are trying to find their stride and bounce back after the big loss to Washington. They gave up 286 total yards and allowed five different players to score. Washington’s defense sacked quarterback Will Pierce three times.

Injuries have plagued the team. Ben Brown, Rett Verhine, Garrett Breithaupt, Deontae Carson and star running back DeMichael Harris all missed time in last week’s game. Harris returned after suffering an ankle injury two weeks earlier against Pisgah, but only had one carry and did not return after that.

Instead of changing his game plan, Smithhart pulls the next player up to keep the game flowing. Connor Bottin has filled in for Harris and had back-to-back 100-yard games against Pisgah and Madison-St. Joe. He was held to 26 yards on nine carries by Washington.

“Your playcalling might change a little bit, but our plays are our plays,” Smithhart said. “We’re not going to come in and redo the playbook. We just have to look and see who has the best matchups.”

Right now, the Flashes are taking their injuries with a day-to-day approach.

“They’re trying to get back. I know it’s frustrating for them but we’ll know more hopefully today (Wednesday) and go from there,” Smithhart said.