Flashes ready to run in season opener

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

St. Aloysius saw its share of running clocks last season when it was on the wrong side of the scoreboard and, frankly, it was a sight it could’ve done without.

Fast forward to this year, and it’s something they’re hoping to see a lot, but in a different way.

Head coach Bubba Nettles said the game plan for 2023 is to run the football, run it some more, run it a few more times after that, and keep the clock moving and opponents off the field. It’s worked well through two preseason scrimmages, and he’s hoping the Flashes can keep it going when Adams County Christian School comes to town for the regular-season opener on Friday night.

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“As much as we can, I want to have that clock running. I don’t want it to stop for any reason other than a change of possession or a touchdown — for us,” Nettles said. “I want that clock ticking. In two 20-minute (scrimmage) games I’d be willing to bet we rushed for well over 100 yards.”

Nettles’ offensive philosophy for 2023 is largely rooted in his personnel. He’s got several talented running backs and a quarterback who is still acclimating to a new offensive scheme.

Junior Thompson Fortenberry rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in his first two varsity seasons. He had 65 in a pair of jamboree games last week against Central Holmes and Canton Academy.

“We were much improved. We ran the football to almost perfection, which is what I want,” Nettles said. “The passing game is coming around. We want to open things up if they start to crowd that box.”

Junior quarterback Carson Smith is entering his second season as a starter, but is learning to handle more responsibility on the field. Nettles and offensive coordinator Kacy Presley have installed more run-pass option plays, which require the quarterback to quickly read the defense and decide whether to keep the ball and run or throw it.

Nettles said Smith has done a good job in the preseason, but he’d still prefer to run the ball most of the time.

“Whenever we’ve called an RPO he has read it correctly and delivered the football for major gains to our receivers. That’s a big deal. That helps pull those linebackers so they don’t bite quite so hard or those safeties have to stay back because they can’t play down into the run. That helps out a lot,” Nettles said.

Playing ACCS marks not only the start of the season, but of a difficult opening stretch for St. Al. The first three opponents are all MAIS Class 5A schools — St. Al is in Class 4A — and perennial power Tri-County is on tap for the District 2-4A opener in Week 4.

ACCS won its first 11 games in 2022 before losing in the 4A semifinals to Tri-County. It beat Bowling Green 41-2 in its 2023 opener last week.

“We are planning on shocking the world and winning a ton of ballgames. We just start off the first four weeks with four pretty good schools,” Nettles said. “We open with three 5A schools in a row. By the time Tri-County rolls around we will have become a little more battle-tested. We’re taking it one week at a time and ACCS is this week.”

St. Al beat Park Place in its 2022 debut to end a streak of 15 consecutive losses in season openers. After that, nearly everything that could go wrong did. Injuries and losses piled up into a 1-9 record.

A new year always brings plenty of promise and, Nettles said, the Flashes have wiped the slate clean.

“This year, these kids are ready to go. They’ve seen what happened last year. They know they can compete,” Nettles said. “We just have to stay positive and do exactly what it is that we do, which is pound the football. If time allows then we’ll throw it and see what happens.”

Regular season
Adams County Christian at St. Aloysius, 7 p.m.
Tallulah Academy at Riverdale, 7 p.m.
Delta Academy at Porter’s Chapel, 7:30 p.m.
North Pike at Warren Central, 6 p.m.
Vicksburg vs. Laurel, 6:30 p.m., at Bay Springs

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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