First day of practice for PCA Eagles open fall drills under new coach Wade Patrick’s supervision

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Practice for the upcoming football season began under a cloudy sky for new coach Wade Patrick and Porters Chapel.

Monday was the first day teams in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools could begin practice. Since Patrick has only been on the job for less than a month, there is a learning process for both coach and players. Patrick, a former Bayou Academy assistant, replaced John Weaver last month. Weaver left PCA after one year to become the offensive coordinator and track coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy. Patrick is the fourth PCA coach in four seasons.

Patrick had 28 players go through drills on Monday. He said his biggest task is to find the right spots to put them in.

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“We’ve got to use this week to find our best 11 players for both sides of the ball,” Patrick said. “I feel like we have a good group. We have some of our junior high players working with us and we’ll have some more come out once they are through with their physicals.”

While the PCA roster is not set, Patrick does have his coaching staff in place. Bill Fleming, who was PCA’s head coach in 2009, will return to the sideline to handle the linemen. Former Warren Central standout Kenny Johnson is working with the Eagles’ backs, receivers and defensive backs, while former PCA player Kenny Simms will work with the junior high players and receivers. Simms played for PCA from 2004-06 and recently graduated from Mississippi College.

Patrick said the Eagles will go in shorts and helmets twice a day each morning this week. They will don full gear on Thursday.

“Our plan is to be done by lunch each day,” Patrick said. “We’ll go for about two hours, take a break, and then come back for another session. Thursday, we’ll be in pads.”

Because of the limited number of players, Patrick has changed the Eagles’ preseason format from previous seasons.

A previously scheduled scrimmage for Aug. 12 was cancelled.

“I didn’t want us to go 13 straight weeks of games,” Patrick said. “We’ll have a scrimmage on Aug. 5 here against Tallulah and then follow it up with a regular week of practice.”

The Eagles open the season on Aug. 19 at home against Union Christian.

As for what offensive and defensive schemes the team will employ, Patrick said that’s still to be decided.

“We’ll be versatile,” Patrick said. “We will run some spread, but we will also use a power back set.”

The Eagles return starting quarterback Jonah Masterson, who last year threw for 2,011 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gone, however, are his top three receivers from last season. Chris Marshall, the 2010 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, graduated and is now with Gulf Coast Community College. Montana McDaniel and Jake Boyd also graduated. The trio combined for 108 receptions for 1,888 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The focal point of the offense could be Kawayne Gaston, who ran last fall for 1,028 yards and 12 touchdowns as the featured back for Vicksburg High.

The defensive side is Patrick’s forte.

He ran Bayou’s defense for five seasons, helping the Colts win the MAIS Class A championship in 2008.

“I love a 4-4 set, but with every team now going to a spread offense, you have to use some combination of the 4-2-5,” Patrick said. “I ran a 5-3 all season one year at Bayou, but now the offense dictates what you can run on defense. All I can tell now, is that we will have a four-man defensive line.”