PCA’s first practice heralds football’s return|[07/29/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The tweet of a whistle. The barking of signals. The anguished cries of exhausted runners.

On a warm morning that gave way to a 100-degree afternoon, the first sounds of fall filled the air Monday when Porters Chapel Academy became the first Vicksburg team to start practice for the 2008 high school football season. The Eagles went through a 2 1/2-hour practice in the morning and another in the evening that were heavy on conditioning drills and sprints. Twenty-two players, the entire varsity roster, showed up for the first day of practice.

“Our main focus, obviously, is conditioning. We need to work on getting ourselves in playing shape. After that, it’s working on fundamentals,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. “I’m a little disappointed in our conditioning. But I like our attitude. I think everybody is ready to roll.”

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Senior linebacker Joe Borrello agreed.

“Everybody on the team gets that gut feeling. It’s time to straighten out. It’s football season,” Borrello said. “A lot of us didn’t sleep last night because we were up all night thinking about football.”

PCA, like all the other Mississippi Private School Association teams, was allowed to start fall practice on Monday. The Mississippi High School Activities Association starts its season – and fall practice – a week later. Vicksburg High, Warren Central and St. Aloysius will all start workouts next Monday.

PCA will have two-a-day practices all this week, work out in shoulder pads for the first time on Thursday and full pads next Monday. They’ll take the field for the first time on Aug. 8 when they host Tallulah Academy in a scrimmage. That will be Wright’s first opportunity to see what he believes will be a talented team.

The Eagles lost quarterback Matt Cranfield and tailback Austin Barber – the 2007 Vicksburg Post Offensive Player of the Year – to graduation. Replacing them will be Clayton Holmes, who ran for 519 yards and five touchdowns at St. Al last season, and Warren Central transfer Josh Perry. Holmes was a running back at St. Al, but played some quarterback his sophomore season at Tallulah Academy when he pulled off the unusual feat of leading his team in rushing, passing and receiving yardage. Perry is a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder who was stuck behind three-year starter Joel Forbes in WC’s backfield.

Although it’s still early, Wright believes that duo, combined with an offensive line that returns four starters and a deep receiving corps, will give the Eagles a potent offense.

“They both look great,” Wright said of Holmes and Perry. “Clayton is a tremendous athlete, and Josh Perry is an absolute beast. He’s got a chance to be as good as we’ve ever had. I’m real excited about him.”