Eagles fly blind into season opener

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Porter’s Chapel Academy Eagles are flying blind into their regular-season opener.

PCA will host Columbus Christian Friday at 7 p.m. It’s a rematch of last year’s opener that PCA won 48-0, but beyond that head coach Blake Purvis has little idea of what the Rams will bring to the field. He hasn’t been able to obtain film or a scouting report, which has made preparation for this game similar to the past two weeks of scrimmages and jamborees.

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“Same book, different chapter,” Purvis said, noting he and the Eagles went through the same thing in the lead-up to last year’s opener. “I do know they have a new coach, which makes me a little uneasy because with no film we don’t know what we’re preparing for. We have to approach it like a scrimmage or jamboree and just do what we do.”

Fortunately, PCA has done fairly well in that situation. It played Clinton Christian to a scoreless tie and lost 6-0 to Union Christian in a pair of two-quarter jamboree games last weekend at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Purvis said the final scores of both were slightly misleading.

PCA held Clinton Christian to only six offensive plays. A couple of long drives by the Eagles resulted in one turnover and no points. Union Christian broke a long touchdown run for that game’s only points, and Purvis wrote that off as a busted play against the second-string defense.

“I thought our defense played well,” Purvis said. “We tackled in the open field pretty well. We didn’t give up big pass plays. I was pleased with where we are.”

One of the highlights of the preseason was also one of the team’s concerns — turnovers. The Eagles forced several of them in the jamboree and two scrimmage games the prior week against Kirk Academy and Deer Creek, but also had a few on offense that thwarted potential scoring drives.

“We forced, between the scrimmage and the jamboree, three or four turnovers in what amounts to a game’s worth of plays. So I have some expectations that the defense is going to create turnovers,” Purvis said. “If we can minimize our turnovers (on offense), that gives us an advantage. We’ve got to take care of the ball when we’re running it. Some of our ball carriers have got a loose handle with it.”

Those ball carriers are a pair of new running backs, senior Wade Dickard and freshman Tyler Washington.

Another senior, Carter White, led the team with 603 yards and four touchdowns last season but suffered an injury during summer workouts in July and isn’t expected back until early September. White has been practicing, but until he’s cleared for contact it will be Dickard and Washington who shoulder the load.

“The more carries that they get under their belt, the more comfortable they’ll get with it,” Purvis said.

Dickard did not play football last season, but Purvis was impressed with his performance since returning.

“Wade Dickard has been phenomenal this year,” Purvis said. “He showed up with a focus and mental discipline that helped him get up to speed after missing a year.”

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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