St. Aloysius, Porter’s Chapel still building their football rivalry

Published 8:00 am Friday, September 14, 2018

As far as rivalries go, Porter’s Chapel Academy vs. St. Aloysius is still a work in progress.

There’s not a trophy to play for, nor much of a tradition. The schools have played each other in other sports for a number of years, but never met on the football field until 2017. As similar-sized private schools whose students often run in the same social circles, there’s usually more camaraderie than animosity between its athletes.

“The week of the game is always heated and it’s good, but the weeks prior to the games we’re all cool. We all hang out,” St. Al senior wide receiver Ryan Theriot said.

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This, however, is the week of the game. Porter’s Chapel will take the bus a couple of miles east on Friday for its first trip to St. Al’s Balzli Field and a key District 3-AAA game for both teams.

St. Aloysius has other long-term rivalries with fellow Catholic schools Cathedral and Madison-St. Joseph. Porter’s Chapel has had shorter-term ones with district opponents such as Tri-County Academy and Central Hinds, but none that have stood the test of time.

The football series and rivalry with the two Warren County schools will likely evolve into something that lasts for years, but for now even its participants admit that it’s still getting there.

“Rivalry games are fun. The hype and excitement makes it a little different,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said, before adding, “It’s still something we’re getting used to.”

Besides adjusting to a game with some extra oomph behind it, the Eagles and Flashes also both desperately in need of a victory. St. Al is 0-4 overall and 0-1 in District 3-AAA. PCA is 1-3 and 1-1 in district play. Each team appears to have reached the point where another loss will make a late-season playoff push difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

Last season, St. Al beat PCA 39-24 and went on to win three of its next five games. It missed the playoffs after a loss in its season finale, but St. Al coach Michael Fields is hopeful a victory can provide a similar spark.

“This game is the one that put us back in it last year, so we need the same thing to happen this year,” Fields said.

The Flashes are coming into the game with some injury concerns, however. Quarterback Phillip Upshaw (ankle) could play this week after missing two games, but backup QB and leading rusher Alvin Brown might head to the bench with a nagging hamstring injury. The starting quarterback would be Theriot if neither can go, which presents its own problems.

Theriot is St. Al’s leading receiver with 12 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Moving him under center would take away a big-play threat that the Flashes desperately need and that Purvis admitted was a focus of PCA’s defensive game plan.

“Theriot is special, and it seems no matter how he’s defended he’s going to get big plays. You can only bottle him up for so long,” Purvis said. “I think we’ve seen some decent passing offenses and done a decent job defending the pass as long as we haven’t blown a coverage. Most of the big plays we’ve given up, we’ve just blown coverages. We have to be better than good this week, because three bad plays will be 21 points this week.”

PCA, meanwhile, is hoping its running game can be a good foil to St. Al’s big-play ability. It has run for 180 yards and 362 yards in two of its games, and been held under 100 yards in the other two — including in last week’s 33-6 loss to Central Private.

Improving in that phase of the game, and controlling the clock to keep St. Al’s offense off the field, will be a key for the Eagles, Purvis said.

“We’re a running football team. That’s no secret. That’s what we want to do and where our strength is,” Purvis said. “We have to execute in the running game better than we did last week. We have to stay on our blocks, finish plays, and just be better.”

All game start at 7 p.m.

Porter’s Chapel at St. Al (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

ONLINE: For live updates and full coverage on Friday night, visit

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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