PCA faces top-ranked Trinity

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 18, 2009

For three weeks, Porters Chapel has gone through a meat grinder. Two tough games against MAIS Class AA teams wore them down physically and a one-sided loss to district rival University Christian last week wore down their spirit.

Tonight, the Eagles face an opponent well-suited to finish the job.

PCA hosts undefeated Trinity (4-0), one of the top teams in Class A and a favorite to win the state championship. It’s a tough task anytime, but especially now for a banged-up PCA squad reeling from back-to-back lopsided losses. PCA (2-3) has lost its last two games by a combined score of 96-22.

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“We just haven’t executed. Coaches tell us to do one thing and we take a couple plays off and it just has a snowball effect,” PCA wide receiver Andrew Wall said. “It’s just a lack of focus.”

The Eagles have to snap to attention in a hurry to stay with Trinity. R.J. Fleming, who plays tailback and quarterback, leads a balanced offense that is averaging 40 points per game. Fleming has scored eight touchdowns on his own this season and has thrown three TD passes.

Quarterback Givonni Dent and receiver Kent King are also potent weapons. PCA coach Bill Fleming, though, said it was the speed of R.J. Fleming that scares him.

“Offensively, it’s amazing the things they do. R.J. will give up 20 yards to cut across the field, stop, then give up 10 more yards to run for a 60-yard touchdown,” Bill Fleming said. “If they run a sweep to the right, we have to stay at home on the left because he’s going to cut back.”

Trinity’s speed should give the Eagles nightmares. Their biggest problem in last week’s 49-14 loss to      University Christian was an inability to prevent big plays.

University Christian only ran 16 plays in the first half, but gained 283 yards and scored 35 points. Four of the first six plays the Flames ran resulted in touchdowns, and four of their five first-half touchdowns were 30 yards or longer.

Bill Fleming blamed some of that on the absence of linebacker Jay Wiley, the team’s top tackler. Wiley injured his knee the previous week against River Oaks and sat out last Friday’s game. With an open date for PCA next week, followed by a must-win district game against Russell Christian the next, Fleming said it’s doubtful Wiley would play tonight.

“I think we’d be stupid to play him this week,” Fleming said. “We’re looking at winning those two (district) games if we can stay healthy. We’re not looking to win at Russell, survive and win three games. We’re trying to win every ballgame.”

PCA will also need to step it up a notch on offense. The Eagles scored 57 points in their first two games, but just 22 in their last two.

Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com