Flashes begin run in district

Published 9:16 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

St. Aloysius’ football season has taken on the appearance of an old kung fu movie.

For weeks, the Flashes have fought through the minions and taken a beating. Battered and bruised, but still standing, they’ve made it to the final levels where they’ll now face — in ascending order — the big bosses.

St. Al (1-6, 1-0 District 3-AAA) goes on the road Friday night to play Manchester Academy (0-7, 0-3) in the first of three consecutive district games to finish the regular season. Win them all, and St. Al is the district champion and playoff bound.

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In the coming weeks, the Flashes will play Central Hinds (4-2, 1-0) and Riverfield (5-2, 2-0), but for now coach BJ Smithhart said they have little choice but to focus on the first rung of the final pyramid.

“We’re just playing Manchester,” he said. “We’re trying to still get things accomplished each week that we have to get better at, and give ourselves an opportunity to do that.”

St. Al made it to this point by conquering its first district challenge, three weeks ago against Hartfield Academy. That allowed it to reach the final stage of the season still alive for the district title and a playoff berth, but the Flashes have paid a terrible price along the way.

Nearly every member of the opening-night starting lineup has missed some time because of injury. The latest are receiver Brandon Teller and lineman Cole Yearwood, who both went down with knee injuries last week against Greenville-St. Joe. Smithhart didn’t want to comment on the specifics of their injuries, but did say neither would play this week.

“We just hate it for the kids. It’s frustrating. But we’re definitely not giving up on the season,” Smithhart said.

St. Al did get its biggest weapon back when running back DeMichael Harris returned last week. Harris had missed most of the previous five games with an ankle injury. He rushed for 110 yards and two scores, and had a third touchdown negated by a penalty, in his first full game since the season opener.

Smithhart said having Harris, who ran for 2,102 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, back in the lineup will be a big boost.

“He got a little tired, but that’s to be expected,” Smithhart said. “He can take any play to the house. He’s explosive, and it definitely helps an offense out when you get a player like that back.”

Manchester hasn���t won a game this season and has scored more than seven points only once, but Smithhart is still wary of its potential. He said the Mavericks have largely struggled — much like his team — against a difficult schedule, and their go-for-broke offensive style makes them dangerous.

“They’ve had a tough schedule too, and that takes a toll on them,” Smithhart said. “They have a couple of big-play threats, like to spread it wide and throw it deep. Any team that can do that can put you in a bind.”

St. Aloysius at Manchester

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 101.3 FM

Online: For live scoring updates Friday night, visit Facebook.com/thevicksburgpost and Twitter.com/vicksburgpost

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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