PCA and Park Place meet with playoff spot going to the winner

Published 7:03 am Friday, October 20, 2017

Considering it hasn’t had a winning season since 2008, it’s not a stretch to say that Porter’s Chapel Academy hasn’t played a lot of meaningful late-season games in the past decade.

Sure, the Eagles have made a handful of playoff appearances — four, to be exact — but each time they were mostly a sacrificial first-round lamb to higher-seeded juggernauts.

Friday’s regular-season finale, at last, has lots of meaning. Beat Park Place Christian (5-4, 1-3 District 3-AAA), and the Eagles (5-4, 1-3) will earn a trip to the MAIS Class AAA playoffs as a double-digit seed in the field of 16. Lose and they’re out. In a bigger sense, however, there’s even more riding on it.

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PCA’s seniors have a chance to reach the postseason for the first time in their careers, and bring the school its first winning season since that 2008 squad finished 13-1 and reached the Class A semifinals. Those are both major accomplishments for a team that has already won more games this year than in the past three combined.

“I think we all know this is a pretty big week and our playoffs are depending on this Friday,” senior defensive lineman McKinley Skipper said. “I’ve been here for two years and this feels amazing. Even if we can’t make the playoffs we’re still guaranteed a winning season, and they haven’t had that in years. But we aren’t stopping at a winning season.”

Friday’s game is, for all intents and purposes, a play-in game for a wild card berth in Class AAA. Porter’s Chapel is tied for 16th with crosstown rival St. Aloysius heading into this week. Park Place is just on the outside of the field, in 17th.

Most of the top 11 seeds are already set, but Nos. 12-16 are in play. The PCA-Park Place winner could get as high as the 12th seed, while the loser is likely to be on the outside looking in.

St. Al also needs a win to solidify its standing, but could possibly sneak in even with a loss in its regular-season finale at Riverfield.

“It’s fun to be in the hunt. Naturally, you’d like to be fighting for a higher seed, but for where we’ve come from it’s nice to be in Week 10 and have a chance to win your way in,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said.

Getting to this point has certainly been a fight for the Eagles. After losing to St. Aloysius on Sept. 15 to fall out of the District 3-AAA championship picture, they had to win four of their last five to earn a wild card. So far, they’ve won three out of four including a 13-9 win over Claiborne Christian where the winning touchdown came with four seconds left, and a 17-3 victory over Glenbrook Academy last week in which they were shut out for the first three quarters.

Throw in a handful of injuries along the way to starters like defensive back Cameron Harvey and quarterback Tristan Pickering, and it’s clear that this success has been hard earned.

“Just like in two of the last three games, it’s that never say die attitude. Winning games late after not having things going for you, the way the season sets up is the way many of our games have gone. We’ve had to get it done in the 11th hour,” Purvis said. “I’m proud of our guys for still being in this position. There are many times they could have thrown in the towel and been satisfied with two or three wins, and they were not going to do that.”

Now the last hurdle to overcome is a Park Place team that has an astonishingly similar resumé to Porter’s Chapel. Not only are their records the same, but their point differential against four common opponents is within seven points total and not more than three in any one game. They’ve lost to and beaten the same teams in that set.

Park Place, which started playing football in 2009, is also trying for its first winning season ever as an 11-man team. It finished 7-3 playing in the eight-man division last season.

“On paper it could not be any more evenly matched. Our scores against common opponents are almost identical. They’re fighting for a playoff spot like we are, and they’re a good football team,” Purvis said. “It’s a one-game season for us right now. The plus side of it is, we still control our playoff destiny. We don’t need a bunch of people to lose for us to get in.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Park Place at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Vicksburg at Canton (Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)
Warren Central at Clinton (Radio: 105.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Riverfield (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Washington School at Central Hinds
Kemper Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena
Collegiate Christian at Briarfield Academy
Franklin Academy at Rebul Academy
Tensas Academy at Tallulah Academy
Wilkinson County at Port Gibson

For live updates on Friday night, follow us at twitter.com/vixpostsports and facebook.com/thevicksburgpost

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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