Porters Chapel taking long road to play tonight

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2008

Already this season, Porters Chapel Academy has established itself as one of the best teams in Mississippi by beating teams from three different states. Tonight, the Eagles make their mark in a fourth.

PCA will travel to play Jackson Academy in Jackson, Ala. It was a hastily scheduled game, added to the schedule in early September after CM&I canceled its season, and will be the first time PCA has played a team from Alabama. Already this year, the Eagles have faced — and beaten — teams from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“Might as well. We’ll travel up to play somebody in Tennessee next year,” PCA coach Randy Wright joked. “I’m very excited. I think the kids are, too. We’re pumping it up as a Mississippi vs. Alabama deal, and state pride is on the line.”

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The Mississippi squad should be just fine in this one, at least on paper. PCA is 7-0 and ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press’ private schools poll. The Eagles are the top-ranked Class A team in the poll.

Jackson Academy, meanwhile, has been one of the worst teams in the Alabama Independent School Association the last two seasons. It went 0-10 in 2007, including one loss by a whopping 84-0 score. This year, Jackson started 0-5 before beating Open Door Christian School last week, 21-6.

Although the Eagles have had little to gauge Jackson’s ability on other than scores and a couple of game films, PCA tight end Reed Gordon said one thing did stand out.

“They’re real scrappy. They keep on fighting,. They’re not that big, but they never give up,” said Gordon, who has caught 12 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

Wright added that the unfamiliarity between the teams made for an intriguing matchup, no matter how lopsided it may be.

“It’s going to be interesting because we’re in a different association, different refs, a different brand of football. It’s going to be interesting to see how we match up,” Wright said.

The Eagles are also dealing with a recent string of injuries to an already thin offensive line. Center Josh Hill (back) and guard Stewart Williams (knee) are not expected to play tonight. Hill didn’t dress out for last week’s 48-7 rout of Heidelberg, while Williams started and played two series before leaving with the Eagles ahead 21-0. Coming into the season, PCA only had six true linemen on the roster.

With key district games against Central Hinds and Benton coming up in the next two weeks, Wright said he’ll likely rest Hill and Williams against Jackson.

“Our goal this entire season is to be undefeated and healthy leading into the Central Hinds and Benton games. We’re undefeated, now we’re trying to get healthy,” Wright said. “We’re trying to be ready to go for those next two weeks.”