Injuries spoiled once-promising season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Andrew Embry of Porters Chapel drags a defender with him for yards during one of PCA’s early season wins. The Eagles started the season on a tear, but an injury to running back Wesley Purvis derailed the run. (The Vicksburg Post/c. todd sherman)

[10/30/02]According to the schedule, Porters Chapel Academy’s season ended last Friday against Humphreys. In retrospect, it probably ended about three weeks before that.

PCA’s drive for a berth in the Academy-A playoffs collapsed in the final three weeks of the season after star running back Wesley Purvis, a Chameberlain-Hunt transfer, suffered a severe knee injury.

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Without Purvis, who averaged more than 10 yards a carry and 100 rushing yards per game, the Eagles’ retooled offense couldn’t find any rhythm. After averaging 25.6 points in its first seven games, PCA scored only seven points total in its last three games and turned the ball over more than a dozen times. In a shutout loss to Deer Creek, PCA had eight turnovers.

“Wesley was basically the backbone of our team. After Wesley got hurt, we had people to run the ball, but he did a heckuva job running the ball,” senior lineman Chris Lancaster said. “We tried our hardest, but we just got close but didn’t get no cigar.”

The defense played well enough to help PCA earn a 7-0 win over Benton, but not well enough to avoid being beaten 24-0 by Deer Creek and 41-0 by Humphreys. The 1-2 finish ended PCA’s season at 5-5 after a promising 4-3 start that included close losses to Conference 5-A champion Tallulah Academy and runnerup Briarfield.

“That’s the tough thing about Academy-A ball. There’s just not a lot of participation and not a lot of backups,” PCA coach Bubba Mims said. ”

Despite the tough ending to the season, there were some reasons for Mims to be optimistic about next year’s team.

Most of the line that opened holes for Purvis all season will be back in 2003, with only Lancaster graduating. Quarterback Gerald Mims will be a sophomore next year, as will running back Kenny Simms.

Mims threw for 669 yards and eight touchdowns, and Simms averaged more than 4 yards per carry in limited action. Mims was forced to move to running back, however, after Purvis’ injury.

“The good thing about this year, we got a lot of good, young kids who got some playing time at the end of the season and even in the middle of the season,” Mims said.

Although Simms and Gerald Mims return next season, the biggest hit for PCA will be at the other skill positions.

In addition to Purvis, fullback and linebacker Josh Rush, who ran for 299 yards and also led the team in tackles and sacks, will graduate in May. So will Joseph Ivey, the team’s leading receiver, and kicker Aaron Curry.

Allen Cassell, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder who won a state high jump title at Chamberlain-Hunt in 2001, will help ease the loss of Ivey, Bubba Mims said. Mims also noted that his team lost four all-conference players from the 2001 team, which went 4-6, and still finished with a better record in 2002.

“I think we’re going to be good enough to make a run, myself,” Bubba Mims said. “It’s not bleak to me. It’s not bleak at all. I see it getting better and better.”

The future beyond 2003 is also bright, Mims said. The school’s junior high and peewee teams both went undefeated this year. The bulk of this year’s junior high team, which allowed only eight points all season, will begin reaching the high school level in 2004.

“You look at the records underneath us, the junior high was 8-0, the peewee was 8-0, and we were 5-5,” Mims said. “That’s not too bad. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”