Young players help PCA fill gaps in small lineup

Published 11:07 am Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last week’s season-opening Red Carpet Bowl was as much about survival as it was winning a football game for Porters Chapel Academy.

Playing in 100-degree afternoon heat, nearly half of the Eagles’ roster left the game with cramps at one time or another. The football torture test forced them to dig deep not only to find the will to win, but for able bodies to throw onto the field.

They found both.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Five freshmen and one eighth-grader combined for more than a dozen tackles in the 34-26 win over Union Christian. They also provided the short-handed Eagles with the depth they’ll need heading forward, beginning with this week’s home opener against Hartfield Academy.

“It’s going to help us out a lot. Everybody knows we’re short, and with them coming up and stopping the run like they’re supposed to, I’m liking what I see,” said senior linebacker Logan Pickering, who had 12 tackles against Union Christian.

Eighth-grader Josh Hunt was the biggest contributor among the young PCA players, finishing with five tackles. Freshman Glen Alan Kittrell had three tackles and a fumble recovery, while Brandon Brister and Michael Brewer had three tackles between them. All four of those players saw time at linebacker.

Josh Arias and Isaiah Minor, also freshmen, contributed on special teams.

PCA only has 17 players in 10th through 12th grade, so any contributions from the lower grades are welcome. The younger players are limited to a combined six quarters of game action per week by Mississippi Association of Independent School rules. However, because of the lack of depth on the roster, they often practiced with the varsity. That helped them to better blend into the game when called upon, coach Wayne Lynch said.

“We know they’ll perform to expectations,” Lynch said. “Each one of those guys is hungry and wants to be on the field. Practicing with the varsity and JV together in the spring and summer really helped.”

PCA’s dirty half-dozen are likely to be called upon again — if not this week against Hartfield, then at some point down the line.

Hunter Lyons, a senior running back and linebacker, dislocated his shoulder against Union Christian and is questionable for Friday’s game. Other injuries are sure to pop up over the course of the season and force them into action.

When they get thrown into the fire again, Pickering had faith they’d be ready.

“They really surprised me. We weren’t expecting them to do as much as they did. They did the job, and did exactly like we asked them to do,” Pickering said. “That is going to help tremendously, especially getting them up to our tempo. They’re doing a really good job stepping up to the plate.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest