PCA falls short in playoff bid

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

Porters Chapel’s slogan for this season, first on, last off, rings hollow as Eagle Field’s surface browns and goes fallow.

There are no more games left to be played and the Eagles (5-6) enter a tough off-season.

Porters Chapel had one of the area’s best offenses, but it was the defense, especially against the run, that was PCA’s undoing time and time again.

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“It’s a mindset,” first-year coach John Weaver said of the reason why his team struggled against the run. “I told our guys that you can be shown how to tackle, go through all the drills in the world, but it comes from inside your heart. You’ve got to make that sacrifice, you’ve got to take that pounding each play.”

With the exception of Riverfield, run-oriented teams like River Oaks (43-0), Tri-County (35-14) and Newton (40-27) had their way with PCA’s young defense. Against veer and power-I formation teams, a defense is forced to play its assignments and be disciplined to avoid getting out of position and opening a crease, something that happened all too often against PCA.

“We had guys who had never played linebacker before,” Weaver said. “We’d have guys who’d be in position to make a great play, but they’d have a brain cramp and they forget how. We’ll play assignment football, but one guy misses his assignment, one guy gets kicked out, another gets blocked down and, bam, it’s off the races.”

Another vulnerability was the Eagles’ inability to find one back to tote the majority of the load on the ground as PCA went to a back-by-committee approach that was inconsistent at best. Weaver wants to rectify that situation and he has some candidates ready to assume a greater responsibility, especially since the offense will lose all three of its top wide receivers — Chris Marshall, Jake Boyd and Montana McDaniel — to graduation next season.

A couple of candidates have already surfaced and the Eagles will likely tweak the spread offense with more running out of the I-formation to take advantage of the available talent.

“We’ll have Peter Harris, who’ll be a junior, and Chris Williams, who will be a sophomore and who got some touches late in the season,” Weaver said. “We’re looking for that one. It’ll be between those two guys to be that back when we go I (formation), which we didn’t do at all this year.”

The schedule was front-loaded with playoff-bound teams and that didn’t help matters either. Eight of PCA’s 11 opponents made the playoffs this season.

There was plenty of good news, though. Texas transfer Marshall had a stupendous season, catching 50 passes for 1,024 yards with nine touchdowns and was a threat anytime he had the ball in his hands. He averaged 30.8 yards per punt return with two scores and returned a kickoff for a score while averaging 35.8 yards per return.

Freshman Jonah Masterson made a big impact in his first year running the Eagles’ spread offense. He completed 121 of 211 passes for 2,011 yards, 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. And he’s back for three more years with plenty of upside.