St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will wrap up the 2019 regular season Friday, when the Saints take on Crystal Springs.
The Saints come into the game with a 2-8, 1-3 record, and are hoping to finish the season strong, with a win over the Tigers (6-2, 1-2).
The game will wrap up what has been a disappointing year for the team – a group of 19 young men who have played with a lot of heart.
“We’ve played nine ball games and in seven of those games, we’ve been within seven points or tied at halftime,” said head coach Johnny Nichols. “But we have (19) guys. That’s very difficult for 3A football – the physical aspect, playing both ways … It’s tough to maintain that for four quarters.”
St. Andrew’s is in the MHSAA Class 3A, Region 6. Teams are divided into classes based on the size of the high school’s student body.
The Saints’ roster is the smallest in the division. The next closest in size are McLaurin, with 24 players, and Raleigh, with 36.
By comparison, Velma Jackson has 61 players; Yazoo County has 51 players and Crystal Springs has 40, according to Maxpreps.com.
With larger rosters, players don’t necessarily have to play both sides of the ball, meaning offenses and defenses are more rested later in the game, when St. Andrew’s guys are worn out.
Box scores tell the story. In week eight, the Saints were down 6-0 against Velma Jackson at the half, but eventually fell 35-0. Against West Lincoln, St. Andrew’s trailed 13-6 at the half, only to lose 26-20. And in the September 13 matchup against St. Joseph Catholic School, the Saints were tied 7-7 at midpoint, only to fall 28 to 7.
Ironically, St. Andrew’s had one of its biggest halftime deficits against McLaurin – nine points – but came back to win by a touchdown in overtime.
“We have a number of kids who go both ways – eight or nine of them depending on what offense or defense we have out there,” Nichols said. “They are playing 150 to 175 plays a game.”
The Saints are led by first-year quarterback Trey Hebert. The junior began the season as kicker but had to take over the offense after senior Aaron Cooper went down in week five with a season-ending injury.
Prior to that Cooper had amassed more than 400 all-purpose yard and two rushing touchdowns.
Since taking the helm, Hebert has performed admirably, completing 44 of 82 passes for 423 yards and five touchdowns.
St. Andrew’s rushing game is led by senior Lleyton Carr, who has carried the ball 165 times for 684 yards and five touchdowns, followed by sophomore Jamon Harkless, who has 383 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Carr and Harkless are also leading tacklers, with Carr having 20 solos and 60 assists, and Harkless having 15 solo tackles and 61 assists through nine games.
The Saints average 68 passing and 146 yards per game.
Crystal Springs comes into the matchup averaging 57 yards passing and 324 yards rushing per game.
The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Ellis Fair, who has 390 passing yards, 756 rushing yards and seventouchdowns on the season, and sophomore Johnnie Daniels, who has 1050 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
St. Andrew’s will take on Crystal Springs, on Friday, November 1, at home. The game begins at 7 p.m.
Also this week, the Madison Central Jaguars will try to get back to their winning ways, after dropping back-to-back decisions against Starkville and South Panola, when they travel to Gluckstadt to take on the Germantown Mavericks.
Madison Central rolled off seven straight wins before losing close decisions against the powerhouse teams. With the losses, the Jags have tumbled from first place to fourth place in Class 6A Region 2. The Mavericks come into the game with a 4-5 record overall, and a 0-4 record in the same eight-team region.
So far this year, the Jaguars have relied on their running game and the versatility of quarterback Jimmy Holiday. The quarterback has passed for 892 yards and nine touchdowns, and has rushed for 1,114 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Mavericks are led by junior quarterback Colton Gardner, who has 1,127 pasing yards and eight touchdowns.
The game starts at 7 p.m., at Germantown High.
St. Andrew’s Keys To Victory
-Stifle the run: The Tigers are averaging 324 rushing yards per game, but only 57 yards passing. Stop the rushing game, and Crystal Springs’ offense truly is a paper tiger.
-Play like there’s no tomorrow: the Class 3A playoff picture was still unclear at press time. However, this very well could be the Saints’ final game of the season. If it is, play hard and go out strong.
St. Andrew’s Season at a glance
-Record: 2-8, 1-2 Class 3A, Region 6
-Overtime wins: two
-Best win: 29-22, against district foe McLaurin
-Closest loss: 26-20, against West Lincoln
-Head Coach: Johnny Nichols