Tallulah gunning for Porters Chapel in opener

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 21, 2009

TALLULAH — The pain still lingers for Tallulah Academy.

Porters Chapel bounced the Trojans from the first round of the Class A playoffs, a game that many on the other side of the river feel that they gave away.

The Trojans forced three turnovers and blocked two punts, but they couldn’t put the Eagles away thanks to PCA’s stingy defense. Tallulah’s first winning season since 2003 came to an end.

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On Friday, the wait for a shot at payback will be only 286 days as the two teams open the season at Farmers Field in Tallulah at 7 p.m.

It’s not every day that a team gets a shot to pay back the team that put them out, especially as the season opener. And PCA is understandably wary, knowing that the Trojans will have plenty of motivation

“I’ve never had that happen and I’ve been coaching now for 20 years,” PCA coach Bill Fleming said of the odd occurrence.

However, the Eagles will be a largely different squad. Gone is quarterback Clayton Holmes, top pass catcher Jeremy Roach and leading rusher Josh Perry. Colby Rushing, who played receiver and safety last season, will get his first career start under center.

Also different is who will be manning both sidelines. Doug Branning resigned as Tallulah coach and is now PCA’s headmaster. Fleming took over as PCA’s coach in the offseason.

“They’re going to be gunning for us,” Fleming said. “Coach Weaver, who coached here before, is going to have them pumped up and ready. They’ve got to take care of their house. We’ve got to break in, get what we can and get out.”

First-year Tallulah coach John Weaver, Branning’s former top lieutenant, has spent the week downplaying the revenge angle and stressing to his team that starting on the right foot, no matter who the opponent, is the primary goal.

“I’ve been telling our guys that we’ve got to be motivated because it’s the first game of the season, no matter who you are playing,” Weaver said. “We have to be ready, no matter who crosses this river. We have to be ready ourselves.”

PCA will come into Friday’s matchup limping. Running back/ defensive back Montana McDaniel is questionable after he took a monster lick on his right arm during last week’s scrimmage against Winston.

Arm injuries to Matthew Warren and Talbot Buys resulted from the first two plays against Winston. Buys is out indefinitely with a broken arm, while Warren is questionable. The shock of having three comrades carted off with serious injuries in two plays played havoc with PCA’s concentration in the jamboree.

“My whole philosophy is that the first lick determines the rest of the night,” Fleming said. “You’ve got to bring the lick to them. That’ll set the tempo. The second play is important too, because if you take the second play off, the other team will say that that was a fluke and you’re in for the dogfight of your life. You bring it every single play, the one with the weaker heart, well the mental breakdown is going to come.”

The injury situation is a bit better for Tallulah, as none of the Trojans injured during the jamboree will miss Friday’s game.

PCA knows that Friday is just the beginning of a tough slog going into district play. Five Class AA schools loom on the schedule before district play starts.

“We know they’re a good team,” Fleming said. “They (Tallulah) are big, they’re fast, they’re strong and they’re well-coached. Our goal is to take each game and get better each week.

“If we can start off with a win, we’re looking at a higher level of ball each week.”


Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@vicksburgpost.com