PCA and St. Al square off with fading playoff chances at stake

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall, officially, won’t start for another 10 days. Porter’s Chapel Academy and St. Aloysius are trying to get there with something to play for.

Warren County’s two private schools have reached the midway point of the season in a desperate spot. St. Al is winless at 0-4. PCA is slightly better at 1-3. Each team still has the possibility of reaching the MAIS Class AAA playoffs, but needs a second-half rally that begins when they face each other Friday night at St. Al’s Balzli Field.

“This is it. If we come out flat next week, we can almost pack the stuff up because two losses in the division is kind of hard to overcome,” St. Al coach Michael Fields said after a 28-17 loss to Washington School last week. “Especially when you’re running behind a team like Central Hinds, and we’ve already lost to them. Last year this is when we started to make a run and give ourselves a chance. So I think we’re ready.”

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St. Al, despite losing its 16th non-district game in a row, had perhaps its best outing of the season against Washington. The offense had several big plays including a 28-yard touchdown pass, the special teams set up a field goal with a long punt return, and the defense had two sacks and a turnover.

Washington scored two touchdowns in the final 92 seconds of the third quarter to wipe out a 10-point deficit, then punched in a late touchdown to seal it.

Fields was encouraged by the improvement, but well aware of the corner the Flashes are now painted into.
“We’re getting better every week at the little things. They’re getting there, and now we’ve just got to learn how to finish,” Fields said. “Hopefully next week we keep making that step and learn how to win. Once you get a win, then everything gets better. But this (PCA game) is a must-win.”

It is for Porter’s Chapel as well. The Eagles lost 33-6 to Central Private last week. They fell behind 21-0 in the first half and then gave up two defensive touchdowns in the last two minutes to turn it into a blowout.

PCA, with a 1-1 record, has a leg up in the District 3-AAA standings and still controls its destiny with a path to the district title. It also has a favorable schedule down the stretch that can put it in line to earn a wild card berth in the Class AAA playoffs, if it can pull together a winning streak.

“I don’t know for either of us is this it’s the end of the road,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “We both had a lot of success and opportunities late in the schedule last year. It definitely helps boost you forward going to the second half of the season.”

Purvis added that the district standings are only part of the equation. The MAIS power points system that determines most of the 16-team field is also a factor. Neither St. Al nor PCA finished last season with a winning record, yet both were only one win away from earning a playoff berth.

“With the way we’re set up, power points are going to be a factor for either of us,” Purvis said. “It’s a district game, but more importantly it’s a power points game.”

All game start at 7 p.m.

Porter’s Chapel at St. Aloysius (Radio: 104.5 and 101.3 FM)
Columbus at Vicksburg (Radio: 1490 AM/107.7 FM)
Yazoo City at Port Gibson
Central Hinds at Hillcrest Christian
Prentiss Christian at Tallulah Academy
Tensas Academy at Rebul Academy
Franklin Academy at Briarfield Academy
Delta Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena Academy
Madison Parish at Delhi

For live updates and full coverage on Friday night, visit 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 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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