St. Al keeps playoff hopes alive

Published 9:24 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

St. Aloysius only has one win this season, but it was one it needed to keep its season alive.

St. Al’s 28-21 win over Manchester Academy on Friday kept the Flashes alive for the District 3-AAA championship. They’ll still need to win their last two games — this week at home against Central Hinds and next week at Riverfield — to do it, but the win over Manchester was the first step.

“I think we realized this was the time we needed to step it up,” said senior wide receiver Brandon Teller. “It paid off for us to play hard.”

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Teller said he was confident the Flashes (1-7, 1-1 District 3-AAA) could pull out the victory against Manchester (5-3, 3-1), the district’s first-place team. Had Manchester won, it would have clinched the district title. Now it must wait to see if St. Al loses one of its last two games.

Hartfield Academy (5-3, 2-1) is also in the mix and could win a three-way tiebreaker with Manchester and St. Al. Central Hinds (5-3, 1-1) can tie Manchester, but lost their head-to-head matchup earlier in the season and Manchester would win it on a tiebreaker.

“They were playing to win district and we just stopped them from doing that, so that was huge,” Teller said.

Teller said the loud homecoming crowd played a large role in the Flashes’ victory, and the team will need the same amount of support the next two weeks.

“Early in the game they were a little quiet, but later on they started coming in and that helps a lot whenever the crowd gets into it,” Teller said. “We need them to speak up and make some noise. It really helps us out and gives us some confidence every play.”

The Flashes feel especially confident going into the last two games of the regular season knowing Manchester has already beaten both of their last two opponents.

“I think we can do it,” Teller said. “I think if everybody plays hard and does their job, we’ll be just fine. I’m excited looking forward.”

St. Al will be working specifically on offense in preparation for those final two games, Teller said. The Flashes had a two-game swoon in which they gained a total of 410 yards and scored 20 points, but have bounced back with two of their best offensive games of the season the past two weeks.

Quarterback Antonio Thompson had 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Manchester.
The defense, meanwhile, played well after giving up a total of 138 points in its previous three games. St. Al held Manchester to seven points through three quarters. The Mavericks scored twice in the fourth, but one touchdown came on a short field following a turnover.

Smithhart said the defense played loose against Manchester and was helped by getting back some injured players from previous weeks.

“They played loose and played fast and played fun,” Smithhart said. “It helped we got a couple guys back. Landon (Middleton) looks really good and Garrett Vincent got his first action on the night and played great at safety. They really played their hearts out and did well.”

Smithhart said he didn’t feel any additional pressure than usual in the must win situation. He was proud of his team for not throwing in the towel because of their winless record before last week.

“I’m proud of the kids. They could have laid down,” he said. “They really played hard, played with so much emotion. I’m really excited for them.”


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