Flashes begin playoff run vs. Bayou

Published 9:02 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

It was the heart of St. Aloysius’ players that pushed them to the District 3-AAA championship and a No. 5 seed in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoffs.

After being dinged up all season, the fifth-seeded Flashes (4-6) are healthy and ready for the postseason as they host No. 12 seed Bayou Academy (5-5) Friday at 7 p.m. at Balzli Field. St. Al is the only team in the 16-team Class AAA bracket with a losing record, but has won three consecutive games and appears to be peaking at the right time.

“The kids bounced back and as we got healthy we played pretty good here at the end. To be able to get a home playoff game, I’m just excited for them,” Flashes coach B.J. Smithhart said.

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This is the third straight year St. Al has made the playoffs, and the second time it’s heading in as a district champion. The past two seasons it advanced to the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals, and reached the championship game in 2014. St. Al left the MHSAA and joined the MAIS in July.

Smithhart said the Flashes know what to expect in the playoffs. Right now, they are just worried about Bayou and will treat this game as their Super Bowl.

Smithhart said he’ll be looking to see his team execute on the field and avoid penalties. The Flashes had 16 for 150 yards last week in a 40-39 win over Riverfield.

“We felt like we left some points out there and it almost came back to bite us, so we’ve got to cut out the penalties. Play with some emotion but don’t let the emotion get the best of you,” Smithhart said.

The Flashes have relied on their rushing attack all season behind DeMichael Harris and Connor Bottin. The two backs have accounted for 1,695 of the team’s 2,202 rushing yards.

The sophomore Bottin carried the load early in the season while Harris was injured, and the senior Harris has exploded for three consecutive 200-yard games.

Harris has 855 yards and 15 touchdowns in four games since missing a month with an ankle injury.

Heading into Friday’s game, the offensive plan remains the same: let Harris run through the tackles in an effort to wear Bayou down.

On the other side of the ball, Smithhart preached the importance of staying on their man and making tackles.

“(Defensive coordinator Michael) Fields just wants to make sure everybody has their assignment. Just don’t miss assignments and rally to the football. That’s been his motto all year,” Smithhart said.

Both teams appear to be more similar than their rankings suggest and should match up well. The Colts and Flashes beat Riverfield with the same 40-39 score and lost to Greenville-St. Joseph 52-13 and 40-14, respectively.

“I think it should be a pretty even match. We play more downhill but that doesn’t mean they’re not physical,” Smithhart said.

Smithhart said the Colts are an athletic team that likes to throw the ball, are well coached and will make their opponent beat them. Bayou completed 51 percent of its 239 pass attempts this season and racked up 1,416 yards on the ground.

“They have a pretty good balance of pass and run,” Smithhart said. “They play hard, run a couple of different defenses and they get after it.”

This is the time of the season players look forward to the most and everything is earned going forward.

“That’s what I tell my seniors, from this week forward nothing is given to you, so enjoy it. I think they’re enjoying it, are focused and excited, and that’s really three things that you want from your football team this time of year,” Smithhart said. “We’re just going to roll the football out there and see how we respond. It’s going to be some ups and downs in the playoffs and hopefully we’ll just keep playing well.”

Bayou Academy at St. Aloysius

MAIS Class AAA playoffs, first round

Friday, 7 p.m.

Radio: 105.5 FM

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