Flashes try to finish unlikely run to title
Published 8:57 am Thursday, October 20, 2016
The St. Aloysius Flashes have come a mighty long way in just two weeks.
Dead, buried, and staring a winless season in the face at the end of September, they’ve resurrected their season with two district victories and have a chance to earn a playoff berth in late October.
There’s still one more step, though. They need to win on the road at Riverfield (2-7, 0-3 District 3-AAA) on Friday night and hope some other results fall their way in order to celebrate a fourth consecutive playoff berth.
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“There are so many different scenarios that can happen. The only way I know we have a chance to get in is to win. If we don’t do that, we have no chance,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said. “We’ve come a long way in two weeks, and I imagine somebody else could do the same with a big win. None of it matters if we don’t beat Riverfield.”
St. Al (2-7, 2-1) can win the District 3-AAA championship and earn a top-five seed in the MAIS Class AAA playoffs if it beats Riverfield and if Hartfield Academy (5-4, 2-1) loses to Central Hinds (5-4, 1-2).
If Hartfield and St. Al both win, they would finish in a three-way tie with Manchester Academy (6-3, 3-1), and Manchester would take the district title on a point differential tiebreaker.
St. Al could also get into the playoffs as a wild card. The 16-team bracket includes five district champions and 11 wild card teams determined by the MAIS’ power points formula. St. Al is currently 16th in the power point rankings, and is one of seven teams within a point of each other. If the results fall the right way, the Flashes could sneak into the bottom half of the bracket.
All of those scenarios, however, are null and void if they don’t beat Riverfield. A loss would eliminate St. Al from both the district title and wild card pictures.
“It could be all for nothing if we don’t win. It could still be all for nothing,” Smithhart said.
Regardless of what happens, St. Al’s transformation from struggling team to potential champion has been stunning.
The Flashes were 0-7 after a 55-21 loss to Greenville-St. Joe on Sept. 30. In the two games since then they’ve beaten Manchester and dominated Central Hinds. St. Al outgained Central Hinds 527-137 and forced four turnovers in last week’s 41-14 victory.
In each of the last two games, St. Al has rushed for more than 300 yards. It has had a 100-yard rusher in each of the last three games.
“Everybody is playing better. It’s not just one thing. The offensive line is playing better as a unit, and the running backs are feeding off that,” Smithhart said. “It makes it a lot easier when everybody is getting blocks. If we get (quarterback Antonio Thompson) or (running back) Connor (Bottin) some space, they’re going to get some yards.”
Smithhart said the recent surge is indicative of what his team was capable of all along. He noted that the Flashes led in the second half of five of their seven losses and were competitive in all but one game this season.
“We knew we were good and had a solid team. Even during that stretch we were solid,” he said. “That’s the biggest credit to them is that they kept believing they had a good team and didn’t go pointing fingers or blaming people.”
FRIDAY’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
St. Aloysius at Riverfield (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Clinton at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Canton at Vicksburg (Radio: 1490 AM)
Porters Chapel at Amite School (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Briarfield at Tallulah Academy
Delta Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena
Rebul Academy at Clinton Christian
Hartfield Academy at Central Hinds
Port Gibson at Wilkinson County
Richwood at Madison Parish
For live scoring updates on Friday night, follow us at twitter.com/vixpostsports and