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Gaels rock Gilbert

October 15, 2011
By DANA BECKER Messenger Sports Writer

The ninth-ranked (Class 2A) St. Edmond football team took out any frustration they had left from last week's loss to No. 2 West Marshall on Gilbert Friday night, posting a 40-0 victory inside Dodger Stadium.

Neil Flattery eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for his Gael (7-1 overall, 5-1 district) career, finishing with 184 yards and four touchdowns. The senior now has 2,120 yards and 25 touchdowns, including nine 100-plus rushing games.

After falling to the Trojans on their home field last Friday, 42-21, St. Edmond started fast with 27 first-half points against the Tigers (2-7, 2-4).

"We wanted to get out to a quick start because Gilbert is the kind of team that if you let them hang around, they can be dangerous," said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who added to his state record win total of 389 games. "I thought we played pretty well in the first half, but we kind of let the score dictate how we played in the third quarter. We didn't keep up the intensity in (the third), but we were able to find it again in the fourth, which was good to see."

Of the 40 points scored by the Gaels, 26 of them came off four Tiger turnovers, including the first score of the game. After the St. Edmond defense forced a punt, the snap back to the punter was wild and senior Ross Taets fell on it. Two plays later, Flattery punched in the first touchdown of the game.

The Gaels honored their senior class before the contest, and Tighe made sure all of them saw extensive action.

"We don't have the biggest roster in the state, but these kids all work hard, regardless of if they start or now," Tighe said. "This was a tremendous win for our team and it felt good to see some of the reserves get a lot of time out there."

Gilbert hung tough, but the Tigers shot themselves in the foot with turnovers, penalties and miscues. The Gael defense held them to just 168 yards of total offense, including 73 over the final 24 minutes.

Flattery punched in his second score early in the second quarter, while his cousin, David, connected with Nick Clark on a 31-yard TD pass later in the period. With just over a minute left before halftime, Flattery ran in his third touchdown of the game.

"Neil is just an incredible talent," Tighe said. "Once he gets around that corner, there aren't many guys in the state who can catch him. I thought our fullback (Alex Mericle) ran hard, as did Vinnie (Harvey)."

Harvey brought the Gael crowd to their feet in the fourth when he broke free for a 36-yard TD scamper. The sophomore had 65 yards to help run out the clock.

Along with his rushing performance, Flattery also had two interceptions. Clark and Mericle had picks, as well.

Friday night's win helped avenge a tough 11-7 setback against Gilbert last year, and secured runner-up honors in the district race for St. Edmond. With the second place finish, the Gaels will host a home playoff game when substate action begins two Wednesdays from now.

"(West Marshall) was a tough loss, but our kids bounced back just like I thought they would," Tighe said. "We have a tough one next week, as South Hardin is a team much like Gilbert. We will have to be ready to go as soon as we step off the bus."

The Gaels close out the regular season at South Hardin next Friday.

Contact Dana Becker at (515) 573-2141, or by email at sports@messengernews.net