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Eagles rusty’ in season’s first full practice

First-year Porters Chapel head coach Randy Wright watches as Corey Fuller participates in conditioning drills during the Eagles’ first practice on Monday. The public schools begin fall practice in one week. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[7/27/04]A little taste of fall was in the cool morning air Monday, as Porters Chapel Academy opened football season with its first two-a-day practices.

The Eagles worked on conditioning, a few basic running plays, and non-contact drills during the two-hour morning practice. Later Monday evening, they hit the weight room for about an hour before returning to the field.

“We were a little rusty,” sophomore quarterback Michael Busby said with a laugh, his face drenched in sweat. “We definitely have some work to do. We’re not in shape like we should be. We’ll get there, though. It’s just a matter of time.”

Despite the usual gasping, vomiting and general sluggishness that often accompany the first day of football practice, the Eagles seemed upbeat.

They were joking with new head coach Randy Wright near the end of the two-hour morning session, and the PCA coaching staff said there were few discipline problems throughout the practice.

“They looked great,” Wright said. “We were glad to have the guys out that were here, and lots of guys came in in pretty good shape because they worked out this summer.

“I could really tell the guys that have been here this summer and the guys that have not been here this summer.”

Wright was named PCA’s head coach in June, about a month after former coach Bubba Mims died suddenly. Wright served as an assistant at PCA for nine seasons and coached most of his current players when they were in junior high or on the school’s baseball team. Because of their familiarity with each other, neither players nor coach expected a rough transition.

“I’ve coached all these guys before, so there’s really not a whole lot of adjustment there,” Wright said. “Not only have I coached them in baseball, but I’ve coached all these kids in football. I thought practice went really smoothly today.”

The Eagles will be young this season only a half-dozen starters return from last year’s 4-6 team but the newcomers are a group that dominated the junior high ranks.

On that level, this year’s freshmen and sophomores went 16-0 over two seasons.

In 2002, with Wright coaching them, the Junior Eagles allowed only one touchdown when a fumble was returned for a score against the second-string offense.

Wright wasn’t expecting the same kind of dominance in the high school ranks this season, but he was excited about Porters Chapel’s prospects for the next few years.

“I’m very excited. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge ahead,” Wright said. “There’s a lot of excitement in me right now.

“I’m ready to get cranking, can’t wait for us to be able to put the pads on and see what we’re made of.”