Wounded Eagles confront Newton

Published 11:39 am Thursday, September 8, 2011

One team that could not afford injuries just had three in last week’s win at Ben’s Ford Academy in Bogalusa, La.

Porters Chapel Academy, which has 20 players on its roster, was forced to do some major reshuffling on both sides of the ball after injuries to starting middle linebacker Rich Murphy, center Sam Staggs and defensive lineman Josh Masterson. Murphy tore up his knee and is done for the season. Staggs (knee) and Masterson (shoulder) are doubtful for Friday’s trip to Newton County Academy in a key MAIS District 4-A contest.

The Eagles (3-0) pulled out a 19-0 win over Ben’s Ford to go 1-0 in district play, but the player losses had coach Wade Patrick wondering, who could he put where in time for Newton (1-1, 0-0).

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“We’re awfully banged up,” Patrick said. “We got us a win, but it feels like a loss because of the kids that got hurt. The big problem for us is that we’ve got to find a new center and we lost both of our fullbacks.”

That’s not a good thing for a team that has committed to running the ball out of power-I formation.

Vicksburg High transfer Kawayne Gaston ran for 213 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Eagles on a sloppy field in Bogalusa. He now has 323 yards and five TDs this season.

Patrick said he will likely move Tate Chapman to center to fill in for Staggs while Jacob Smithey will move from the defensive line to linebacker.

Smithey leads the Eagles with 22 tackles.

“Jacob played his first game at linebacker last week and did well, so we feel he can move him into Murphy’s spot,” Patrick said. “But because it hurts our depth on the defensive line, we might have to go to a different front.

“We’ve got some defenses that we haven’t used yet like a 3-3-5.”

PCA will need to play strong against the run because the Generals feature one of the top running backs in the MAIS. Dillon Williams scored 31 touchdowns to pace Newton to a 7-5 record and a spot in the second round of the playoffs last year. He had two touchdowns in Newton’s 18-7 season opening win over Oak Hill and 129 yards and one score in a 28-14 loss to Wayne.

“He’s good running back, one of the best in the private school league,” Patrick said. “He’s got good size and he broke a long run against Wayne. We are going to have to keep him from getting the long run.”

Defensively, the Generals run a 4-4 alignment. With both fullbacks out and clear weather expected for Friday night, the Eagles might open up the offense.

Quarterback Jonah Masterson has thrown for 110 yards and three scores.

“We’ll look at creating more options for us,” Patrick said.