FAIRHOPE – The St. Michael Cardinals won a shootout with the Orange Beach Makos, 49-41, behind four rushing touchdowns from Moe Faiupu and two from Martin Corte Thursday night on W. C. Majors …
FAIRHOPE – The St. Michael Cardinals won a shootout with the Orange Beach Makos, 49-41, behind four rushing touchdowns from Moe Faiupu and two from Martin Corte Thursday night on W. C. Majors Field at Fairhope Municipal Stadium.
While Faiupu lined up at quarterback for his rushing touchdowns, he also plays other offensive skill positions as well as defensively. St. Michael head coach Philip Rivers didn’t want to limit him to the title of quarterback but called Faiupu the team’s best football player.
“He probably played over 100-something snaps because he played defense and offense. He’s the one guy that truly doesn’t come out unless he needs a blow and the guy – I describe him as our best football player,” Rivers said. “He’s a little bit of everything; he’s playing tight end, blocking (Chris) Pearson. The next time, he’s carrying it. Then the next time, he’s covering (John Wallace) Holladay, so we ask him to do a lot.”
Faiupu said he was just carrying out the game plan and felt like his team came together to get the job done in bounce-back fashion after a loss to Class 6A McGill-Toolen last week.
“I felt like we executed well tonight as far as our plays and game plan,” Faiupu said. “I think we came into this week better than last week after that McGill loss so as far as their defense it was good, and it was a good game overall.”
Cardinals grab sixth region win in as many varsity seasons
The pair also both talked about the magnitude of St. Michael’s win over the previously ranked Orange Beach squad that is similarly young in its program history.
“Coming into this game, all of our coaches agreed this is probably the most important game in the school’s history,” Faiupu said. “Now it gives us another region win and another win in general.”
“This is a huge win and I remind them, we’ve only won six region games in the school’s history. We haven’t won 150 like some of these other places, we’ve won six region games, so these are huge,” Rivers said. “Until we get to double digits, they’re all big.”
Track meet out the second-half gates
Thursday night’s contest needed little time to see both teams score double digits, but it was the action coming out of halftime that really made it feel like a track meet. Over about four and a half minutes, the teams traded scores twice with only three plays run in between each.
Faiupu scored his third touchdown of the night, only for Mako quarterback Cash Turner to break off a 33-yard touchdown run to answer three plays later. Three plays after that, Cardinal senior Ezra Sexton responded with a 44-yard touchdown run three plays before Turner connected with Will Reddell for the second of three touchdown passes between them.
“When we made it 28-14, we scored the first drive of the third quarter, then they answered like that,” Rivers said, as he snapped his fingers. “I said, ‘Let’s score and give it right back to them, let’s see if we can get our lead to up-21.’ We got it to 14 a few times but it was a heck of a night.”
‘Where is the defense?’ Cella says right here.
The St. Michael defense got to practice with the fast pace in last week’s contest against McGill-Toolen and senior linebacker Tyler Cella said that came into play night.
“Last week, McGill did a lot of tempo stuff, so we worked on that a lot in practice,” Cella said. “I feel like we improved on that this week, we had good tempo in calling the plays and get going.”
Even after the flurry of Orange Beach touchdowns, the message on the home sideline remained the same.
“We just kept saying we gotta nail them,” Cella said. “We were in control of the game the whole time, we had to keep them on their toes, and I think we did that; we just kept fighting.”
Cardinals celebrate homecoming win with student section
After the clock hit triple zeroes and the teams shook hands, the St. Michael squad walked over to the student section and sang the alma mater together.
“It was awesome, we haven’t done it at all yet this season so we were all like we gotta do the alma mater when we win,” Cella said. “It was great to get into the student section.”
“It feels good; all the school spirit, all the fans felt good,” Faiupu said.
“This is huge. A win is a win, we like winning those region games, but we always say these region games are huge,” Cella said. “I’m ecstatic, the guys are hyped up and we’ll get after it next week too.”
“It was a great night, but we gotta go to school tomorrow,” Faiupu said.
“We did a lot of things good things offensively. Obviously, any time you score 49, it’s good, but we did some things not good and still scored 49,” Rivers said. “And then defensively, we did some good things but we gotta limit the big plays.”
St. Michael improves to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Region 1 and will travel to face Wilcox Central next week. The Makos fell to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in region play and will hit the road to match up against Bayside Academy next .