Flashes clinging to playoff spot as Cathedral looms

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2018

If the season ended today, the St. Aloysius Flashes would be in the MAIS Class AAA playoffs. If the season ended Saturday, they might not be.

Neither is the case, of course. There’s still a couple of games beyond this one. That scenario, however, does illustrate just how precarious the Flashes’ position is right now.

Sixteen of the 23 teams in Class AAA qualify for the postseason, and St. Al is currently ranked 15th in the power point rankings that determine wild card berths and seeding. It can still earn a spot no matter what happens Friday against archrival Cathedral, but a win would certainly provide some extra breathing room.

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“It’s not too late. We’re still in the top 16. We’re 15. If we beat Cathedral we take the pressure off of us,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said. “We’ve got to come up with a big ballgame and play as hard as we’ve played in the previous three ballgames. We played a good part of the game last week, but we didn’t play a complete game and that was our problem. I thought we had got past that point. I’m hoping we made those mistakes and we won’t make them this week.”

St. Al (2-5) and Cathedral (4-2) have played 56 times total, and every season except one since 1970. Streaks have come and gone over the years, but right now Cathedral is on an upswing. It has won nine consecutive meetings since 2010, including a 49-14 rout in the 2014 MHSAA Class 1A championship game.

The Green Wave has been a bit up and down this season, having lost two of its last three after starting 3-0. Fields said they remain a formidable opponent, however.

“They do everything well. They play sound defense and offensively they don’t beat themselves,” Fields said. “Cathedral’s gotten a history the last few years of just being a winner, and that’s what we’re trying to develop here.”

To do that, the Flashes need to find some consistency of their own. They bounced back nicely from an 0-4 start with a two-game winning streak, then lost 28-14 on the road at Central Holmes Christian School last week.

The Flashes missed two field goals and failed to score on a first-and-goal inside the 5 late in that game, which Fields said was a disappointing step backward. In their previous two games they had scored 83 points, did not commit a turnover, and only punted twice.

“I felt like we should have been riding a three-game winning streak going into Natchez and riding high, but sometimes you have to humble yourself and this was a humbling experience. I think we’ll take that as a positive and keep rolling,” Fields said.

Even with that loss, the Flashes have turned their season around after the dreadful opening month. They’ll close with a pair of district games against Hillcrest (0-7) and Riverfield (4-3) that offer a golden opportunity to solidify their playoff standing. They’d much rather snap a couple of long losing streaks — the one against Cathedral and a 17-game skid against non-district opponents — and take care of it this week, however.

“We’ve made a 180-degree turn. I feel like we’ve come a long way. I just don’t want it to go backward,” Fields said. “St. Al, historically, gets better as the season goes. I feel like we’ve come a long way in a short period of time, but we’ve got to get that thing completed if we plan on going to the playoffs.”

All games start at 7 p.m.

St. Aloysius at Cathedral (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Central Hinds at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Madison Central at WC (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Cleveland Central (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Franklin County at Port Gibson
Tallulah Academy at Claiborne Academy
Rebul Academy at Franklin Academy
Sharkey-Issaquena at Kemper Academy
Tensas Academy at Briarfield Academy
Madison Parish at Wossman

ONLINE: For live updates on Friday night, visit vicksburgpost.com

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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