Big plays highlight St. Al’s spring game against Central Hinds

Published 11:02 pm Monday, May 16, 2022

RAYMOND — Throughout their spring practice period, one of St. Aloysius’ biggest challenges was competing at full speed.

Between injuries, obligations to other sports and a general lack of depth, the Flashes simply didn’t have the bodies to pit their best offensive and defensive players against each other. In many cases, they’re the same people anyway.

They finally got the opportunity on Monday, and passed the test. Three big plays and a defensive stand put three touchdowns on the board and gave St. Al an 18-12 win over Central Hinds in a spring scrimmage.

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“We started off a little rough. Once the nerves settled down and saw how the speed of the game was going to go … I’ve said it a thousand times, that’s hard to emulate in practice with 23 varsity kids,” St. Al coach Bubba Nettles said. “Seeing that, and once we began to calm down, we started to click off some yardage. I was very pleased to see that. And to score some touchdowns goes a long way also.”

St. Al and Central Hinds each ran two sets of 10 plays, followed by about 20 minutes with a running clock. St. Al scored twice during its second 10-play series, on an 80-yard run by Damien Reeves and a 71-yard pass from John David Liggett to Ahmad Stewart two plays later.

Reeves also had a 22-yard run on the final play, and finished the scrimmage with 112 yards on only four carries.
Liggett threw two interceptions during the running clock segment of the scrimmage and also fumbled a couple of high snaps. Nettles, though, was happy with his and his teammates’ execution on the two explosive plays that put points on the board.

“It’s the tweaks we’ve put in our run game, with a little more of that RPO,” Nettles said. “That long touchdown pass was an RPO. John David ran it beautifully. He read it, saw it, chucked it down the field … it was perfect.”

St. Al’s third touchdown came courtesy of the defense. Midway through the running clock segment, Central Hinds had third-and-goal from the 7-yard line when Padre Gray intercepted a pass from Brady Clark at the goal line.

Gray, one of St. Al’s fastest players, made the catch near the sideline and had a clear field in front of him but the play was blown dead immediately. Nettles said it was to keep the scrimmage flowing and that the play counted as a touchdown.

“I was fine with that. I wanted to see us run offensive plays more than I wanted to see Padre streaking down the field,” Nettles said with a laugh.

He was also pretty happy with the defensive effort as a whole. Central Hinds scored on the final snap of its first 10-play series, on a 16-yard pass from Clark to Sam McCoy. It later converted a short field caused by a fourth down stop into a 12-yard TD run by Brady Price early in the running clock segment.

Gray’s interception kept the Cougars from scoring after a St. Al turnover, however, and the Flashes forced a four-and-out late in the scrimmage.

Clark was 8-for-13 passing for 78 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

“I was pleased with the defense. That’s the hardest thing to do in spring because it’s like emulating game speed,” Nettles said. “If we have all of our guys on team defense vs. the scout team offense, you’re going against JV guys and it’s hard to get that look. All I wanted to see was pursuit to the football and assignment. We struggled a little bit with assignment, but I think our pursuit to the ball was good.”

St. Al was also sharp during the junior varsity portion of the scrimmage, which followed the same format as the varsity.
Carson Gleese and Robert Lee both scored on short touchdown runs for the Flashes. Braxton Sills had a 70-yard TD run for Central Hinds, and Jackson Teasley threw a 30-yard TD pass to Chalon Wren as the teams wound up tied 12-12.

Neither the junior varsity nor varsity kicked extra points or ran two-point conversion plays.

Getting both halves of the spring game under their belt was another win for the Flashes and Cougars. The scrimmage was originally scheduled for Friday, but moved to Monday because of thunderstorms that moved through Central Mississippi Friday evening.

“Our young kids and our JV did great. I was super proud of them,” Nettles said. “I was glad we got to do today. I was glad we didn’t kill it on Friday, call it and just go to summer.”

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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