Hyped up for St. Al vs. PCA

Published 6:58 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

When you cover sports for a living, it can become like driving down the interstate on a long road trip. After a while the games and miles all start to blur together. The sights along the way get less and less exciting, and eventually you just want to go home.

It sometimes takes something special to snap me out of that funk. Once or twice a year a game comes along that does it, and this week we have one.

It’s not a big playoff game, or even a marquee matchup on the state level. One team is winless, the other is a very up-and-down 2-2.

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The game is St. Aloysius at Porter’s Chapel Academy, and it feels like I’m not alone in my excitement.
This is a matchup that has been a long time coming. Neither team would be a realistic obstacle for Warren Central or Vicksburg in football, so for as long as I can remember they’ve measured themselves against each other. They’ve played in every other sport on a regular basis over the past decade, but a number of factors beyond their control — from politics to scheduling limitations — kept it from happening in football.

The last MAIS realignment cycle finally removed all of those by putting the two teams in the same district, and here we are.

The novelty of this game has everyone involved buzzing. It helps that with Warren Central on a bye week and Vicksburg High on the road, this is literally the only game in town on Friday night.

PCA’s players were in the locker room Monday talking about making a special entrance to the field, and St. Al is bringing its band across town.

Even the non-combatants are geeked. Some of Warren Central’s football players were reportedly planning to play the crazy fan role, complete with bedsheet signs and body paint, to cheer on their friends.

PCA’s field is rather cozy. The bleachers only seat a few hundred people, and most games draw around 800 people. Athletic director Wade Patrick was conservatively expecting two or three times that many for this one and said the school will rent some extra bleachers from the Vicksburg YMCA as well as implement a parking plan. He encouraged fans to bring lawn chairs to take advantage of open space behind the end zones.

Both PCA and St. Al have had moments of glory in recent memory. Each school has made deep runs in the playoffs in the past decade. The atmosphere this Friday will be similar to the November playoff games during those years, with fans ringing the fences and filling the bleachers and screaming their heads off.

It’ll be a great Friday night in the River City, and a reminder of what makes high school sports so much fun. That’s exciting enough to make even a jaded sports writer smile.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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 139-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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