Peewees have PCA thinking big

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2000

Judd Mims, above right, breaks up a pass during Porters Chapel Academy’s 36-22 win over MSD Tuesday. Below, Spencer Pell runs past two MSD defenders. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

A solid group of young football players has Porters Chapel Academy dreaming of making a run at the state championship in 2005.

PCA’s peewee team finished off a perfect 10-0 season Tuesday night with a 36-22 win over the Mississippi School for the Deaf. The school’s junior high team also had a great season, going 6-1 after an 0-7 campaign in 1999, and also after talk of scrapping the junior high team this season.

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But it’s the peewees third- through sixth-graders that have left fans and opponents alike shaking their heads. PCA’s closest game before the finale was a 20-0 win over St. Andrew’s, and in many games the first string was pulled by halftime.

“They’re as good as I’ve ever seen,” said PCA coach Bubba Mims, who also coaches the school’s high school team.

Along with their skill, the Eagles have used an astounding variety of offensive attacks to pummel their opponents. The peewee team uses the same playbook as PCA’s high school varsity squad and Mims estimated they can run 55 to 60 plays from six different formations, about three times what most teams on that level use.

“Everywhere we went, people said they’ve never seen a peewee team throw as much as we do,” Mims said. “My peewee team knows the offense my high school team runs …. As far as knowing plays and where to go, they already know. They do it to perfection.”

Defense and special teams have also been solid. PCA’s first-string defense wasn’t scored on until a 36-12 win over previously undefeated AAA Central Hinds last week. Sixth-grader Eric Richards has hit eight extra points this season and has drilled 35-yard field goals in practice.

“There’s not a person that didn’t come and watch them and say, Wow,’ ” Mims said.

Although the players are young, the way they’ve dominated opponents has Mims dreaming of state championship rings a few years down the line. Nine of the team’s 22 players are in sixth grade.

“We’re looking forward to it. I can’t wait until they’re 16 or 17 years old,” Mims said. “It’s hard to win when you’re young, but if they don’t get hurt and stay together they can go for two (titles).”

In the meantime, Mims is hoping that the junior high’s solid season can overcome the loss of nine seniors from this year’s team.

PCA used a pair of long Gerald Mims-to-Jason Pugh touchdown passes to beat Tensas 28-6 in its season finale Oct. 5 and finish 6-1. It was a storybook ending to a season that almost never began.

Prior to the season, former PCA coach Jim Sizemore wanted the team’s ninth-graders to gain experience on the varsity level. Nine of the junior high team’s 14 players are ninth-graders, so the decision wouldn’t have left enough players to field a team.

They were finally allowed to have one last season of junior high ball, and made the most of it.

“Whether we won or lost, it was the right decision to play them down and give them one last opportunity to play junior high football,” PCA junior high coach Randy Wright said.

Even while getting to enjoy their last season, the junior high squad did gain some high school experience. The young Eagles practiced with the varsity team every day, running the same drills and going head-to-head on everything from blocking drills to scrimmages.

“Hitting our bigger, stronger guys every day and then going into the junior high games made a difference,” Wright said. “I think the major difference between last year and this year was they got an opportunity to do that.”

Wright also noted a major difference between the two seasons was the number of ninth-graders on each team. In 1999, only five of the team’s players were freshmen. The success of the lower-tier teams also has Wright encouraged about the future.

“The future is bright,” he said. “With the group of peewees we’ve got and the good group of junior high players, we ought to have a good football team for a couple of years.”