PCA looking for the positives

Published 11:11 am Monday, October 5, 2015

It wasn’t even halftime yet, and Porters Chapel Academy was down 34 points. As usual during this dreary season, the game was all but over before the halftime rush had hit the concession stand.

Prentiss Christian lined up for the PAT after its fifth touchdown of the night. The ball was snapped and, streaking off the right side of the line, sophomore Glen Alan Kittrell came in untouched to block it.

It didn’t make a difference in the outcome, or even spark a second-half surge that made the score a little more respectable. PCA still lost 40-0. On the sideline, however, it did bring a smile to the face of head coach Wayne Lynch, who has struggled to keep a positive attitude within a group of players that has been outmanned in almost every game and has not yet gotten to enjoy the taste of victory on a Friday night.

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“This year we’ve had a very tough schedule. It just didn’t work out for us, the way the schedule fell out. We’re super young and playing some of the top teams in the state. It’s just frustrating for them, and for me,” Lynch said after Friday’s loss to undefeated Prentiss Christian.

“Obviously you want to win and have a winning program. But you have to step back and look at the overall picture, and say, ‘Are they doing what you want them to do? Are they executing what you want them to?’ And they are,” Lynch added. “They’re working hard and leaving everything they have out there. All you can do is say thank you for the effort, keep pushing, and eventually it’s going to pay off for you.”

PCA has, officially, one win in seven games this season. It was a Week 2 forfeit over Riverdale, which did not have enough healthy players to compete. PCA has not actually won a game on the field.

That hasn’t necessarily been for a lack of skill, however. The Eagles, a Class AA team that has 24 players on the roster — including 16 freshmen and sophomores — has played four teams with a winning record. A fifth, Trinity, is 3-4 and almost beat a couple of Class AAA teams.

The physical difference between the younger Eagles and their bigger, more talented opponents has often been obvious. Prentiss Christian had a number of large linemen who controlled both lines of scrimmage. The Saints had seven sacks in Friday’s game, reducing PCA’s offense to whatever athletic quarterback Patrick Minor could create with his feet as he tried to escape the pass rush.

Despite that, Lynch said, the Eagles have continued to play hard through blowout after blowout. That gives him hope that things can turn around eventually, even if it doesn’t happen this season.

Playing so many young players now means they’ll still be around for two more years as they grow physically and mentally. A talented junior varsity team that went 5-2 this season is also a promising sign for the program’s future. Understanding that brighter days are ahead is perhaps the biggest challenge for all involved, and Lynch said his players seem to grasp that that’s what they’re playing for this season.

“What gets me about them is they really, truly want to win, and they truly have a heart and fight. We’ve been down in every game this year and we do not quit. I love that. As the coach of this team, I cannot praise them enough for that,” Lynch said. “Yeah we’re outmatched and outsized, but they’re laying it on the field. We’re not able to compete with these other teams right now, but it has nothing to do with our effort.”

Amazingly, PCA has not completely been eliminated from playoff contention. It has three games remaining, two of them against District 5-AA opponents. Winning both could be enough to boost the Eagles into a wild-card berth in the Class AA bracket.

The first is this Friday at home against Wilkinson County Christian (5-2). The game was originally scheduled to be played at WCCA, but was moved to Vicksburg by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools because PCA only had three home games on its schedule.

The other district game, Oct. 23 against Amite School Center (3-4), is also at home. If the Eagles can manage to pick one off, there will be plenty more to smile about than hustle plays in lopsided losses.

“We’re learning about ourselves and we’re competing,” Lynch said. “If we can compete and get lucky and win one of these district games, we’ve still got a chance. That’s something for them to continue to be positive about.”

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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