Eagles begin playoff push

Published 10:59 am Friday, September 7, 2012

It’s the week of Labor Day, the beginning of September. It’s only the fourth week of the high school football season. And it’s not too early, at least for Porters Chapel, to be thinking about the playoffs.

Following an unexpected bye week courtesy of Tropical Storm Isaac, the Eagles return to action tonight at home against Newton Academy. It’s an early-season game that could go a long way toward determining each team’s playoff destination at the end of October.

PCA (1-1) and Newton (1-1) are expected to contend for a couple of District 4-A’s four playoff berths, so tonight’s game will likely play into several tiebreaker scenarios down the line.

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“It’s a real key game. If we can get this one, it’ll be big in determining the playoffs,” PCA coach Wade Patrick said. “Especially being the first district game, you never want to get behind the 8-ball.”

PCA was supposed to open its district schedule last week against Ben’s Ford, but Isaac’s wind and rain forced that game to be postponed. It has not yet been rescheduled.

Although Patrick said he’d rather play than have a bye week this early in the season, his team might benefit from it. The extra practice time allowed sophomore quarterback Zac Morgan to get some reps and shake off a forgettable debut.

Morgan, filling in for injured starter Jonah Masterson, threw four interceptions in a 22-7 loss to Deer Creek in PCA’s last game.

“It’s definitely helped me prepare. Better than having to step up last week when Jonah got hurt,” Morgan said. “I was fine until that first interception. Then I felt like it was on me to win or lose the game.”

Patrick said he would rework his offensive gameplan to take some pressure off the young quarterback. That means more running plays and ball control, which will put more of the load on running back Peter Harris.

In two games, Harris has 361 combined rushing and receiving yards and is averaging 13.4 yards per touch.

“You go into a season and you want to run the spread. Then you get injuries and you have to re-evaluate things,” Patrick said. “You might see more I-formation and focusing on pounding it instead of throwing it around. You have to do what’s best for your guys.”

Newton, meanwhile, will continue to do what it has always done — line up and run the football. Dillon Williams, a 1,500-yard rusher last season, graduated, but the Generals still employ a power running game that will test the Eagles’ defense.

“We have to play responsible football, assignment-wise. That’s what hurt us in the Deer Creek game,” Patrick said. “You know what’s coming. It’s just more of, ‘can you stop it?’ They start leaning on you, and it wears you down.”