St. Al enjoys taste of victory

Published 9:15 am Monday, September 21, 2015

St. Aloysius coach BJ Smithhart said his team did nothing different against Hartfield Academy, than in the first four games of the season. The only difference is the Flashes captured their first win of the season.

After four blowout losses, the Flashes controlled the entire game against Hartfield and won 41-21. It gave them a district win and a big boost of confidence.

“The district win is huge. It’s the first district game of the year and we came out just firing. This is definitely a great start,” Smithhart said.

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Statistically speaking, there were a lot of differences between Friday’s win and the losses suffered previously.

Offensively, the Flashes recorded 496 yards of total offense. Quarterback Will Pierce completed 64 percent of his passes, going 9-for-14 for 119 yards and two touchdowns. The only other game where the team had a 60 percent completion rate was the loss against Pisgah, where DeMichael Harris rolled his ankle and is still recovering.

The loss of Harris brought about the emergence of sophomore running back Connor Bottin.

Since taking on his unexpected role during the Pisgah game, he’s run for 544 yards and three touchdowns on 74 carries. In the four games Bottin has started or had the majority of the carries, that breaks down to about 109 yards per game.

Bottin was able to get rest in the Hartfield game but still managed to rack up 230 yards on 24 carries. While he was glad a teammate was able to get some reps, he wanted to stay in to get his third touchdown.

He scored from the 1-yard line and broke a 57-yarder on the opening play of the second half.

“He’s a really special kid as far as a runner. He’s very shifty and plays really hard and we really need that out of him,” Smithhart said.

Bottin said the mindset of “one unit instead of 11 individuals,” helped with the win against Hartfield.

“Each week I’m getting better and better. I’m just getting more used to it every week,” Bottin said. “Without my line I’m nothing.”

St. Al got contributions from other runners as well. Backup quarterback Brandon Teller had a 75-yard touchdown run, and Pierce scored a rushing touchdown. In all, the Flashes rushed for 377 yards. The 41 points was not only a season high, it was more than the Flashes had scored combined in losses to Cathedral, Madison-St. Joe and Washington School.

The defense, anchored by senior Josh Price, allowed 246 total yards. Hartfield scored all 21 of its points in the second half, when the game was well in hand. Smithhart has moved Price around on the line and wants to use him the best way he can by playing him at nose and defensive tackle as well as defensive end.

“He’s got a great motor, is strong and hard to block. He’s really special,” Smithhart said.

Price said it feels great to end the losing streak and get a win for the fans. He echoed Bottin’s sentiments of playing together and as one.

Going into last week’s game, Price had three sacks and 19 total tackles. He earned another monstrous sack to end the first half against the Hawks, sending the Flashes into halftime with a big play and a 21-0 lead.

The Hartfield quarterback fumbled, but was ruled down by contact as time expired.

“I came off the edge, hit a guy with a little move and the quarterback was sitting there like a little duck so I had to get him,” Price said.

Overall, Price felt he had a pretty decent game.

“I don’t want to boast too much. Just got to keep building each game and keep the team on a high road and keep the good vibes going,” he said.

St. Al (1-4) will now turn its attention toward homecoming week. It’ll host undefeated Adams County Christian (5-0) — last year’s MAIS Class AA runner-up Friday night at 7.