Photos By Robert Smith
Story By Torsheta Jackson

Last year as an eighth grader, Emile Picarella started two games for Madison-St. Joseph Bruins. His short but fruitful performance garnered attention from several Power 5 colleges including an offer from Oregon. Friday night, he again showed why.

The freshman quarterback led the Bruins to a convincing 40-0 win over Natchez Cathedral. The Bruins, who are making the transition from the MHSAA to the MAIS this year, are poised to make a big impact over the next few years. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Picarella can not only throw bombs, but can also run the ball. Both he and freshman defender Reggie Vaughn were named to the MAIS Preseason All-Gridiron Football team.

St. Joe put the first points on the board after Picarella connected with senior receiver Chris Watson on a 15-yard throw with 9 seconds to play in the first quarter. After a failed extra point attempt, the Bruins rolled into the start of the second quarter with a 6-0 lead. 

The Green Wave tried to answer moving the ball down field to the 11-yard line before turning it over on downs. The Bruins took advantage. A few plays later, Picarella hit Watson, a Meridian Community College baseball commit, again on a 50-yard strike with 3:48 left in the 2nd quarter. The 2-point conversion was no good and the Bruins took a 12-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. 

The Green Wave, who were without several players due to COVID-19 protocols, could not seem to get going. The 6-foot-2, 257-pound Vaughn made several key defensive stops. Cathedral had several critical mistakes and missed opportunities. As the clock ticked down in the second half, the game slipped further and further from their grasp.

With 6:46 to play in the 3rd quarter, Picarella handed off to junior Tay Littleton for a 2-yard touchdown run. The Bruins punched in the two-point conversion. Less than a minute later, Watson returned an interception for 45 yard adding his third score of the night. Senior Rider Sesser found the middle of the uprights and St. Joe carried a 27-0 lead into the final quarter.

Early in the 4th quarter, junior Carter Walker scored on a 6-yard run adding 6 more to the board. With less than two minutes on the clock, in an odd series of events, the officials rescinded an official timeout sending St. Joe scrambling to get back into defensive position. The Green Wave attempted to take advantage with a quick snap, but the ball sailed over the quarterback’s head and after a bit of a scuffle, the Bruins came away with the ball and great field position. Within a few plays they scored their final touchdown of the night.

The Bruins and fourth year head coach John Bond are 1-1 on the season. They will host East Rankin next week.