St. Al overcomes slow start to the season

Published 6:00 am Thursday, September 27, 2018

Two weeks ago, the St. Aloysius Flashes were floundering, with an 0-4 start and a wave of injuries casting an air of gloom over the season before it even got going.

That’s all in the past.

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The Flashes are riding high these days, with a two-game winning streak, a healthy roster and a newfound optimism that not only has them feeling good about things, but dreaming big as they begin the second half of the season with a road trip to Central Holmes Christian School on Friday night.

“Winning cures everything,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said. “It peps you up, the naysayers get a little quieter, and the kids focus more and want to come to practice a little more. But one loss can set you back, so you have to keep working.”

This week, the Flashes (2-4) are trying to avoid a classic trap game scenario. They have to take a two-hour bus ride to Lexington to face an opponent they’ve never seen before, and one that has had some success this season to boot.

Central Holmes (4-2) has scored 34 points or more in each of its four victories, and dropped 64 on Marshall Academy two weeks ago.

“If you can do that, no matter who you’re playing you’re pretty good,” Fields said.

Now that it’s healthy, St. Al has some offensive firepower of its own. It has outscored Porter’s Chapel Academy and Park Place Christian 83-12 in its two-game winning streak and piled up 796 yards of total offense in what amounts to a game and a half.

St. Al was ahead 35-0 at halftime against PCA, which triggered a running clock for the entire second half. The Flashes only ran two offensive plays after halftime. They got far enough ahead to go to the running clock against Park Place as well, but not until late in the third quarter.

Quarterback Phillip Upshaw has completed 22 of 29 passes for 423 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games. When he missed the previous two games and most of a third with an ankle injury, the Flashes were 14-of-34 passing for 143 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.

Having their starting quarterback back in the lineup has given the offense another dimension that benefits the entire operation, Fields said.

“With Phillip in, they have to go to two safeties and take people out of the box. It’s left us running lanes and we have to take advantage of it,” Fields said.

Another thing they need to take care of is the opportunity in front of them. With a couple of wins under their belt, and momentum and a favorable schedule on their side, the Flashes have a legitimate chance to win out and qualify for the MAIS Class AAA playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Fields, though, isn’t stopping there.

“The goal is to not only get there, but to win them all and have a home game,” Fields said. “It’s not weird. It’s wishful thinking. I knew those first four games were going to be tough, but I was hoping we could take advantage of having those injured players back.”

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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