Eagles face crucial bout

Published 11:41 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Porters Chapel’s season won’t be at stake on Friday night. It’ll just feel that way.

The Eagles are still all but assured of a playoff berth, and can even finish in third place in District 4-A by beating Prentiss Christian on Oct. 28. Winning Friday’s game against Heidelberg, however, will likely give PCA a home playoff game and continue a late-season upswing.

“Right now, we could finish anywhere from second to fourth,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said. “You want at least one home playoff game. The fans, the school are all excited if you can do that. This is basically a playoff game for us.”

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It’s also the first

meaningful game the Eagles (5-3, 2-1 District 4-A) have played in a month. Ever since winning their last district game, 27-0 over Park Place on Sept. 16, everything has been geared toward this week.

PCA lost two in a row after beating Park Place, but beat Sylva-Bay last week to get back on the right track.

“I thought last week was a big game from the standpoint of getting back that feeling of winning again,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to go into a district game with three straight losses. That was big as a confidence-type deal.”

Like PCA, Heidelberg is coming off a tough three-game stretch. The Rebels (3-4, 1-1) have lost three in a row, including back-to-back shutouts.

Two of those three losses came against Newton Academy and Wilkinson Christian, which lead their respective districts, while the third was against Class AA Wayne Academy.

Heidelberg coach Jason Soules said the combination of tough opponents and a few injuries contributed to the recent slide.

“Part of it was a letdown after the Newton game. Then we had to drive five hours to play Wilkinson, and if Wayne was in single-A, they’d be one of the top five teams in the state,” Soules said. “We had our moments against Wayne. We just didn’t have enough of them. When we’ve played 1A teams, we’ve been competitive in every one of them.”

Unlike PCA, which owns victories over the bottom two teams in the six-team district, Heidelberg’s playoff footing is far from secure.

Heidelberg finishes the season with three straight district games, beginning with Friday’s matchup, and could miss the postseason entirely unless it wins at least one of the three.

The top four teams in the district will advance to the MAIS Class A playoffs, and the first- and second-place teams will host a first-round game.

“Every game is important from here on out,” Soules said. “The last three games for us, every game is a playoff game. The ironic thing is, the last two years we went 8-2 and missed the playoffs, and this year we could be 6-4 and go.”