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Porters Chapel to play in Red Carpet Bowl classic

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When Porters Chapel Academy began to target inclusion into one of Vicksburg’s most treasured traditions, the negotiations weren’t as tough as many would think. There was no rigorous debate or detailed discussion. It was simply one call, that’s all.

“They just asked us,” Porters Chapel Academy athletic director Wade Patrick said matter-of-factly. “It’s a privilege to be a part of it.”

The Red Carpet Bowl Classic, which has been a staple of the high school football season in Mississippi for 52 years, is a chance for the city of Vicksburg to flaunt its gridiron muscle and showcase the celebratory pomp and circumstance that goes along with it.

Six teams are slotted to participate in this year’s event, and for the first time in its history PCA will be one of them.

The Red Carpet Bowl hasn’t gone with a six-school format since 1995, but the expanded field allowed the Red Carpet Bowl committee —made up of prominent members of the Vicksburg community — to extend an invitation to a third team. When St. Aloysius declined the third invite, Porters Chapel happily snatched it up.

The Eagles will start the classic on August 22 at 3:30 p.m. against Union Christian Academy (La.) before Warren Central and Vicksburg take on Terry and McComb, respectively, in the nightcap double header.

“When we first went to this format, St. Aloysius played the first game, Warren Central played the second (and) Vicksburg played the third. St. Aloysius, after four or five years, decided it was too hot to play at 4 p.m.,” committee member Travis Wayne Vance said. “Porters Chapel steps up and says, ‘Hey, we’ll play at 4 p.m. We don’t care how hot it is. We practice, so we would like to participate in the Red Carpet Bowl.’ We issued them an invitation and they accepted it.”

Neither the scorching August heat nor its suffocating humidity could keep Porters Chapel away from adding its name to the rich history of Vicksburg’s Red Carpet Bowl participants.

“Porters Chapel said they were interested in being in it and they didn’t mind the 3:30 game. They practice at 3:30 so it makes no difference to them,” committee vice chairman David Boolos said.  “We said, ‘Okay, we’ll put you in’ so we can include all the teams that want to be in.”

Boolos believes PCA’s passionate fan base will be able to draw a solid crowd for the first game despite an early start time.

“I think that they’ll bring a representative crowd. You’re talking 1A schools, but Porters Chapel supports,” he said. “If they bring 200-300 people that’s fine. That’s 200-300 more tickets that we can sell that we haven’t sold before.”

The Eagles’ Red Carpet Bowl Classic breakthrough was supposed to happen last season, when PCA accepted an invitation from the committee, but opponent Union Christian Academy stalled scheduling talks resulting in the game’s cancellation. This time around, all conflicts have been resolved and Porters Chapel is officially ready to join the festivities.

The enthusiasm of PCA’s addition to the field has sparked excitement at the school, where players, students and fans all eagerly await the Eagles’ first Red Carpet Bowl experience.

“The people in the school are very excited about it. It’s great publicity for the school and for the student athletes to be involved in something like that,” Patrick said.

But the classic isn’t all about what happens in between the white lines, and Porters Chapel will reap benefits not just in exposure or football success. The school will also receive an undetermined amount of scholarship money for participating, something that helps make the Red Carpet Bowl Classic something more than simply football.

“We give scholarships at the end of the year when (the schools) have their athletic banquets,” Boolos said. “We’ve given scholarships to every team that comes.”

The Eagles have finally been integrated into one of Vicksburg’s most storied pastimes, and the work now begins both on the practice field and behind committee doors. But before the opening whistle shrieks, or the first beads of sweat slowly slip down onto the field, Porters Chapel Academy has already notched a victory.

“It’s just a good thing all around for us,” Patrick said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again in the future.”