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Catholic school rivals St. Al, Cathedral meet in tune up for MAIS playoffs

Now that they’ve got a playoff berth locked up, St. Aloysius can turn its attention to staying right where it’s at in the bracket.

The Flashes (4-5) host Cathedral (7-2) in the regular-season finale Friday night in a game that carries some weight for both teams. Cathedral needs to win to lock up a top-five seed in the MAIS Class 4A playoffs, while St. Al is playing for seeding in the Class 5A bracket.

Throw in a healthy dose of rivalry-based intensity — the two Catholic schools are each other’s biggest rival in a series that dates to 1938 — and it has the makings of a fun lead-in to the postseason.

“It’s a good way to end the season. If you can’t get up to play Cathedral, you don’t need to be playing football,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said. “It’s a personal thing with these kids. It makes it fun. It makes playing and game-planning more intense.”

St. Al clinched a playoff berth by beating Washington School 47-20 last week, and now is trying to hold on to the No. 11 seed in the 12-team Class 5A bracket.

The MAIS awards automatic playoff berths to each district champion and then fills out each bracket with wild card teams based on a power points formula. Teams receive points based off of results and schedule strength, and then are seeded based on an average.

St. Al’s average is 20.444. It likely won’t be able to catch 10th-place Leake Academy (22.111), but might swap places with 12th-place Park Place (19.667) if it loses to Cathedral.

Each position in the bracket charts a different path through the playoffs, and Fields said he likes the course the No. 11 seed would set for the Flashes. Hartfield Academy (6-3) is currently the No. 6 seed and would be St. Al’s first-round opponent. Like St. Al, Hartfield appears more or less locked in to its seed.

Hartfield beat St. Al 29-10 in the season opener back in August, but Fields said a short road trip and a familiar opponent was a good scenario for next week. If St. Al drops to the 12-seed they’d go on the road to play either Pillow Academy or Adams County Christian.

“I kind of like it,” Fields said. “If the playoffs were this week we’d be playing Hartfield. We’re familiar with them and it’s not far away, so we’ll have some fans there and be a lot more comfortable with everything.”

Before they play Hartfield, however, the Flashes need to deal with Cathedral. St. Al beat the Green Wave 45-15 last year to end a nine-game losing streak in the series, but this year’s Cathedral team has already clinched the program’s first winning season since 2015.

Cathedral’s playoff spot is secure — 12 of the 15 teams in Class 4A qualify — and it has also clinched a home game. Seeds Nos. 5-8 host in the first round, and Cathedral is currently in the No. 5 spot. In fact, playing Class 5A St. Al, win or lose, will only help the Green Wave based on how the power points average is calculated.

“With us being a larger classification school, just playing us gives them more power points so they’re definitely going to want a win,” Fields said.
In the end, that might make Friday’s game more about momentum than anything else, Fields added.

“When you’re playing the last game and have playoff implications, it’s good to win because the kids are motivated. Nobody wants to go into the playoffs with a loss,” Fields said.

THIS WEEK’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
Thursday

Vicksburg at Canton (Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)
Friday
Cathedral at St. Aloysius (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Greenville-St. Joe at PCA (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Warren Central at Clinton (Radio: 105.5 FM)
Wilkinson County at Port Gibson
Briarfield Academy at Rebul Academy
Tallulah Academy at Calvary Christian
Delta Strets at Sharkey-Issaquena
Adams Christian at Central Hinds
Madison Parish at Vidalia

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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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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