Flashes look to beef up slim roster after spring practice

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 18, 2018

Now that their brief spring practice period is in the rearview mirror, the St. Aloysius Flashes are turning their attention toward the 2018 season — and perhaps putting out a help wanted sign.

The Flashes will head into the season with only about 20 players on the roster. That’s not unusual — last year’s team had 20 players in grades 10-12 — but it is their biggest issue as spring practice gives way to summer workouts.

“The starting unit is fine. We added (offensive linemen) Ben Raines and Jeff Moore from the junior high squad and they filled in admirably. We’re just going to have to pick up some more kids to give them a break somewhere down the line. But right now, starter-wise, we’re just as good as anybody,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said.

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Fields’ optimism was buoyed by a strong performance by the Flashes in last week’s spring game against MHSAA Class 4A opponent Raymond. The teams had a 60-play scrimmage — 30 on offense and 30 on defense for each side — and St. Al won 10-0.

Considering Fields only worked with the team for about a week because most players and coaches were involved with the school’s baseball and track teams, it was a good way to head into the summer.

“We’re very happy. With the limited amount of time, the kids showed the other sports’ conditioning programs were valid. We went out there and played a valid ballgame against a bigger school,” Fields said. “I’m proud of the kids. They fought hard, they took the sun well which means they were in condition, and the only thing we need to build on is depth. If we build some depth we should have a pretty good ballclub.”

Besides the lack of depth, St. Al will have a couple of key positions to fill. Starting quarterback Antonio Thompson transferred to Warren Central, handing the job to last year’s backup Phillip Upshaw.
Fields liked what he saw of the junior during the spring game.

“He throws well when he sets his feet and has time. But the biggest thing he impressed me with the other day, was he ran the ball well,” Fields said. “He rolled out well, he threw the short passes well. He’s got a good arm, but he’s got some work to do to get his feet set and be more accurate.”

A solid group of receivers might help with that. Seniors Ryan Theriot and Evan Fedell combined for 70 receptions, 11 touchdowns and more than 1,000 receiving yards last season.

“I’ll put our starting wide receiver group against any starting wide receiver group in Mississippi,” Fields said.

The returning talent should give the Flashes a strong base to work with, Fields said, regardless of how many people are on the roster or who they are.

“The mindset with the kids is we’re just going to keep rolling. You never look backward. It’s just like when you lose DeMichael (Harris) or Connor Smith,” Fields said, referring to St. Al’s former star running back and quarterback, respectively, “You just keep going. That’s the key to having a program is the next man steps up.”

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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