Flashes looking for a better start

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The St. Aloysius Flashes have spent a lot of time this season digging out of holes.

They fell behind by 12 points in the first half of the season opener against Cathedral, and by 22 in the first quarter last week against Madison-St. Joseph. They led at halftime in their other game against Pisgah, but couldn’t maintain it in the second half.

With a talented team from Washington School (1-1) coming to Balzli Field on Friday night, it’s a trend the Flashes (0-3) need to buck.

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“We played a really good football team with St. Joe, and they got on us early. It was 22-0 in the blink of an eye,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said. “You can’t spot teams like that a lead. Same thing this week. We’ve got to score some points.”

Scoring points hasn’t been that big of a problem for St. Al. It had 28 against Pisgah and 26 in the loss to Madison-St. Joe. Keeping the other team from scoring has been the challenge. They’ve given up 85 points in their last two games.

Smithhart said it hasn’t been any one, consistent thing that has derailed his team.

“With Cathedral, it was a messy field and some turnovers. This week was a totally different story. It was shock,” Smithhart said. “They hit us for a big pass, then we fumbled and they scored. Then we fumbled again and they scored again. It was probably the worst first quarter we could’ve imagined. We can’t have that happen against good, and deeper, football teams.”

Washington is both of those adjectives.

The Generals are coming off a 33-2 loss at the hands of Class AAAA powerhouse Jackson Prep, but won the MAIS Class AAAA Division II championship last season. Quarterback Anderson Shelley is back for a second season as a starter, and senior running back Cameron Skelton has rushed for 102 and 88 yards in the first two games this season.

Washington won 40-13 when the teams played in Greenville last season in a game that left St. Al battered and bruised. The Flashes entered with several starters already sidelined and left with most of their starting lineup ailing in some form or fashion.

“We’re a bit healthier as a team. We are missing some big parts. Landon Middleton hasn’t played yet,” Smithhart said, referencing his starting linebacker and guard who has missed the first three games because of a knee injury suffered during the preseason. “But we are nowhere near as bad as we were last year.”

Coming through this week healthy is only one of the goals for the Flashes. They play their first District 3-AAA game next week at Hartfield Academy, and correcting some sloppy play and their bad early starts is a priority.

Smithhart feels like the Flashes aren’t far away. Considering the teams they’ve played thus far are a combined 7-2, he’s certainly keeping things in perspective and not panicking.

“We know we’re playing good football teams,” he said. “We’ve got to keep moving forward, and last week we were taking some steps back. Up until then, I thought we were right there.”


All games start at 7 p.m.

Washington School at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)

Hillcrest Christian at Porters Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)

Natchez at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)

Vicksburg at Yazoo City (Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)

Unity Christian at Rebul Academy

Sharkey-Issaquena at Delta Streets

Tallulah Academy at Tensas Academy

Central Hinds at River Oaks

Port Gibson at Terry

Madison Parish at Montgomery

Online: For live scoring updates on Friday night, visit twitter.com/vixpostsports or facebook.com/thevicksburgpost

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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