Flashes already thinking about playoffs

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, where every game can have an impact on the playoffs, it’s never too early to start thinking about the postseason.

Not even the preseason.

The St. Aloysius Flashes play their 2018 opener Friday on the road at Leake Academy, and are already looking at it as a must-win game in some respects. For a team that missed the playoffs by one game last season — and lost five times in games in which they were within seven points at some point in the second half — it’s not hard to see why.

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“In the MAIS, every game you play counts. This is really a playoff game. This is a good indicator of where you’re going to be when you stack up against those other AAA teams,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said.

The MAIS uses a power points system to select and seed its playoff teams, which is why even a Week 1 non-district game carries so much weight. For the Flashes, there’s an added burden — shaking off a losing trend that has followed them for three years.

Since joining the MAIS in 2015, St. Al is a woeful 3-19 in non-district games and has lost 13 in a row. Its last non-district victory was in the 2015 Class AAA playoffs against Bayou Academy. The Flashes are a much more respectable 8-3 against district opponents.

The Flashes finished 3-7 last season, with one of those close losses being a 21-13 defeat against Leake Academy in Week 1. Leake finished 7-5 and went to reach the second round of the playoffs, where it lost to eventual Class AAA champion Indianola Academy.

“We don’t want to just win district games,” Fields said.

St. Al has looked sharp so far in the preseason. In four scrimmage and jamboree games it has outscored its opponents 56-0. It beat River Oaks 7-0 and Glenbrook 14-0 in a pair of two-quarter jamboree games last weekend at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Fields said the defense is a year old, wiser and better, and the improvement is showing early on.
St. Al allowed 30 or more points six times in 10 games last season. It only held two opponents, Park Place Christian and Hillcrest Christian, to less than 21 points.

“Nobody’s made it to the end zone on us, so that’s a plus. I feel like we’re a much better team than last year,” Fields said. “Last year, they just didn’t understand the scheme and made a lot of mistakes at the wrong times. Now we’re bending, but we’re not breaking. They’re showing a lot more fight when teams get down in the red zone.”

One thing that hasn’t changed about the Flashes is their lack of depth. There are only about 25 players on the roster. Leake Academy has 45.

Fields, however, was confident his team could overcome that. The Flashes rely on speed and quickness, and that combined with a solid game plan should give them a chance, he said.

“We saw them last week in the scrimmage, and they’re about like last year,” Fields said. “They’ve got depth, and that’s a big factor. That’s a big advantage the first game. But if we can start sound and stay with the game plan, and avoid mistakes, we’ve got a great chance to beat them.”

5:30 p.m. – Warren Central vs. Oxford (Red Carpet Bowl, at Vicksburg High; Radio: 105.5 FM)
7 p.m. – St. Aloysius at Leake Academy (Radio: 101.3 FM)
7 p.m. – Columbus Christian at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
7 p.m. – Central Hinds Academy at Adams County Christian
7 p.m. – Sharkey-Issaquena Academy at Hebron Christian
7 p.m. – Briarfield Academy at Calvary Christian Academy
7 p.m. – Tallulah Academy at Delta Academy
7 p.m. – McComb at Port Gibson
7 p.m. – Clinton at South Panola
8 p.m. – Clarksdale at Vicksburg (Red Carpet Bowl; Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)

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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