Green Wave shake off nerves to blow out rivals
Published 12:08 am Saturday, August 22, 2015
NATCHEZ — Butterflies were churning in Conner Mire’s stomach an hour before Cathedral’s season opening kickoff Friday against rival St. Aloysius.
The junior quarterback was slated to make his first varsity start under center after a summer long competition with senior Andrew Beesley came to a close.
“I felt like I was confident and ready, but about an hour before the game, I started getting nervous, and you could tell on the first play of the game I was nervous.”
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After receiving the opening kickoff, Mire was sacked on the first play from scrimmage, fumbling the ball over to the Flashes.
But his night was far from done.
Mire marched his team down the field on the next drive 80-yards, and didn’t look back.
“When we drove up the field and scored, we got going from there,” Mire said.
Mire finished the night 19-of-27 for 139 yards and a touchdown, and the Green Wave rolled past St. Aloysius 31-6 for their seventh consecutive win in the rivalry.
“What a great job he did,” said Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing of Mire. “I’m extremely proud of the way he came out and played. He controlled the game and got the ball to different people.”
Alongside Mire’s solid outing, the Cathedral defense shut down the Flashes, allowing just 74 total yards and holding St. Al running back DeMichael Harris, who recorded more than 2,000 rushing yards last season, to just 28 yards on 15 carries. Harris scored the lone touchdown for the Flashes late in the fourth quarter.
“We played with great effort and passion,” Rushing said. “Defensively, I thought we were lights out. From last week to this week, we corrected a bunch of mistakes with our eyes and we are getting our reads. I’m really proud of the improvement from last week to this week.”
Cathedral got on the board first behind a 15-yard run from senior running back Dee Fleming. Fleming finished the game with 63 yards, but his night was cut short at halftime after sustaining an injury.
“Dee will be fine,” Rushing said. “It was more precautionary than anything. He’s a difference maker, but we had some guys step up when we took him out.”
After a 30-yard field goal from Nic Webb to push the Cathedral lead to 10-0, Fleming’s replacement Zach Flattmann went to work.
Flattmann increased the Green Wave lead to 17-0 on a one-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left in the first half.
Flattmann led the Green Wave with 72 rushing yards on 10 carries.
“I was a little nervous, but I was more worried for Dee than me,” Flattmann said. “But I realized I had to step up and lead the team.”
With a 17-0 lead heading into halftime, Rushing said his team cracked down and made some adjustments allowing for them to open the flood gates in the second half.
After a Jardarius Anderson interception on the first St. Al drive of the second half, Mire tossed his first varsity touchdown to JJ Jenkins from 14-yards out to give Cathedral a 24-0 lead.
“(JJ) told me before the play he was going to find a zone and cross and said hit me,” Mire said. “(Rushing) said don’t throw a pick. I rolled out and knew he was going to be there and I hit him. It was a great catch.”
Cathedral’s final score came on the shoulders of Beesley, who was suffering from an arm injury before the game.
“I knew it was there the way they lined up,” said Rushing of the playcalling on the drive. “We didn’t run that play in the first half, but we came out and ran nit and Andrew had good reads.”
The play Rushing is referencing is the power-read, which Beesley racked up 64 rushing yards on on a 98-yard scoring drive for the Green Wave.
Other major contributors in the game include Anderson, who was the team’s leading receiver with nine catches for 77 yards.
Ultimately, the win was exactly what Green Wave players were looking for.
“We weren’t a team before the game, but we really came together tonight,” Mire said. “We know we can play together now.”
Cathedral travels to Madison next week to take on MHSAA Class 2A opponent Madison St. Joseph.