PCA practices for new season

Published 10:05 am Friday, July 31, 2015

Porters Chapel running back Glenn Alan Kittrell carries the ball between blockers Thursday morning during practice.

Porters Chapel running back Glenn Alan Kittrell carries the ball between blockers Thursday morning during practice.

The Porters Chapel Academy football team gathered Thursday morning for its picture day and the first official practice of the 2015 season, looking a bit like a skeleton crew.

Only 21 faces were in the team picture. It’s not an unusually low number, but it does present coaches and players alike with a number of challenges as they embark on the new season. Staying healthy, figuring out a way to work several units at once, and building depth will all be chronic issues over the next few weeks.

“It’s still tough when you have less than two teams. You can’t scrimmage except for half a line,” PCA coach Wayne Lynch said. “We have to do the best we can with the numbers we have. It’s tough not to be able to go 11-on-11.”

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PCA had two practices on Thursday, and two more are scheduled today. Its preseason jamboree is Aug. 14 at Millsaps College in Jackson, and the season opener is a week later on the road at St. Andrew’s.

Getting to that point healthy and physically ready for the season will be another tough task.

Senior lineman Noah Nielsen said the conditioning work the Eagles put in during the summer should have them ready to endure the heat and the faster pace of daily practices.

“We’ve got to thank our manager, Trey Wright. He provides us with water to stay hydrated. We’ve conditioned enough through the summer so we’re pretty much used to the heat. We can run through it, do pretty much anything in it and not be tired,” Nielsen said.

If there is a bright side to PCA’s low numbers, it might be better team chemistry. Lynch and his players have worked hard to build it in the offseason by taking trips to football camps and doing other team-building exercises. Earlier this week, they had an overnight lock-in at the school gym.

“I feel great about the season. Our team chemistry is real good,” Nielsen said. “That’s one thing we’ve been missing the last couple of years, and it’s been a real issue, is our teamwork and being there for each other. We have that down this year. Along with that and our skillset and our mindset, I think we have a real good chance of winning just about every game this year.”

The Eagles might need more than good chemistry to turn the program around, but at least it’s a start.

They finished 2-8 last season — and still made the playoffs, thanks to a large playoff bracket and the MAIS wild card system — and only have five upperclassmen on the roster this year. Nielsen and fellow lineman Justin Smithey are the only seniors.

Lynch admitted the best years are still ahead for the Eagles, with so many freshmen and sophomores set to gain experience this year and return in 2016.

It doesn’t mean this year needs to go to waste, however.

“I feel like we have a chance to be competitive,” Lynch said. ““We’re excited about it. We’re ready to get started. We’ve been throwing routes and doing 7-on-7. It’ll be good to get our entire team together and fine tune and implement some things.”


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.

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