St. Al out to end long skid vs. Cathedral

Published 9:03 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

When it comes to the subject of Cathedral, a little bit of bile raises up in the back of the throats of the St. Aloysius Flashes.

It’s got a little bit to do with the long-running rivalry between the teams. They’re two of the oldest Catholic schools in Mississippi and have been playing each other since 1938. Generations of students on both sides have been raised to treat it as a blood feud when it comes to sports.

It’s got more to do with recent history, though. Lately, the Flashes just cannot seem to beat the Green Wave and it’s starting to get a little old to them.

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

“Each game you want to win, but I can’t really lie about it. This one’s special. Especially with the history. We don’t have a kid on this team that’s beaten them, and we’ve got to stop that,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said.

St. Al and Cathedral will open the 2016 season Friday night at Balzli Field.

Cathedral has won seven consecutive meetings between the teams since St. Al’s last victory in 2010. The streak includes the 2014 MHSAA Class 1A championship game — a loss that still stings for the seniors who were part of that St. Al team. No current member of the Flashes’ roster has beaten Cathedral.

The Green Wave has also not just won, but won convincingly. Only one of their seven victories — a 17-14 win in 2013 — has been by less than 11 points.

The vigor for the rivalry extends to the rest of the student body. Special “Purple Pride” T-shirts were printed this week and given to students and parents to wear to the game and provide a colorful backdrop.

“I’ve never beaten them, in junior high or high school. I think the last time we beat them I was in sixth grade. I wasn’t even in junior high yet,” said St. Al senior quarterback Brandon Teller. He was a freshman when the teams met in the 2014 championship game. “It means a lot. We’ve had them marked since last year when we played them. I think this year we have a better team. We all come together, work together, and that’s what’s going to help us get through here.”

Cathedral went 9-3 last season, its first in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, but has undergone some changes in the offseason. Chuck Darbonne replaced Ron Rushing as head coach and several key players like wide receiver Jardarius Anderson and running back Dee Fleming graduated.

Smithhart admitted that he wasn’t quite as familiar with this edition of the Green Wave as past versions, but said he’s seen enough to know not to expect a major drop-off.

“I don’t know a lot about them. They’ve got a new coach. I do know what kinds of kids they’ve got. They’re going to be a really good team, a really well-coached team, and they’re going to play hard,” Smithhart said. “It’s going to be a really big test, but it’s going to be fun to see how we can compete.”

The Flashes, meanwhile, are coming into the season opener on a high. They routed Porters Chapel Academy 43-0 in a two-quarter preseason jamboree last Friday. Teller accounted for six touchdowns — two rushing, two receiving and two passing — and 270 yards, while the defense held PCA to 39 total yards.

Turning that impressive performance into a trend is the goal for this week. Do that, and the Flashes will finally get to walk away a winner against their biggest rival.

“It’s good. It gives us some confidence. We know what we can do, what we’re capable of,” Teller said after the jamboree. “I think it’ll really help everybody realize that if they do their job it’s going to work out for us.”


All games start at 7 p.m. unless noted

• Warren Central vs. Oak Grove, at Vicksburg, 6 p.m. (Radio: 105.5 FM)

• St. Andrew’s at Porters Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)

• Cathedral at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)

• North Sunflower at Tallulah Academy

• Hebron Christian at Sharkey-Issaquena

• Rebul Academy at Calvary Christian

• Amite County at Port Gibson

• Union Christian at Central Hinds

• Wayne County at Vicksburg, 8:30 p.m.(Radio: 1490 AM)

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.

email author More by Ernest