PCA not ready to give up on a down season

Published 7:55 am Friday, September 28, 2018

Porter’s Chapel Academy has reached a critical point in the football season.

The Eagles only have one win to their credit, and need to win the rest of their games just to finish .500. A playoff berth seems like a long shot at this point, if not an impossibility, yet it’s still a little bit too early to pack it in or start building toward next year by clearing the bench and giving underclassmen some extra playing time.

The four-game closing stretch begins with Friday’s road trip to Monroe, La., to face River Oaks (3-3) in a game that will likely determine the way the Eagles (1-5) approach the rest of the season.

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“This season is still the most important one. We’ve got some underclassmen that are getting reps that’ll benefit us in the future, but there are still things we can accomplish this year,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “We’ve still got a chance to win our last four games and finish 5-5, but it’s going to take a flawless effort. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes and focus on our execution.”

Last week’s 58-28 loss to Union Christian was a microcosm of the season so far. PCA put up some points and had one of its best offensive games of the season — it had a 100-yard rusher (Carter White) and 100-yard receiver (Michael Tod Andrews) for the first time — and wiped out most of a three-touchdown deficit in the first half.

Quarterback Luke Yocum was 8-of-13 passing for 189 yards. White ran for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Andrews caught five passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Andrews’ performance marked the Eagles’ first 100-yard receiving game this season. As a team, PCA totaled 340 yards of offense, split almost evenly with 189 passing and 154 rushing.

The Eagles also gave up a host of big plays and committed three backbreaking turnovers. Union Christian returned an interception and a fumble for a touchdown in the last three minutes of the first half, and also recovered a pooch kickoff that led to another touchdown.

Purvis said that is the type of inconsistency that has plagued the team all season long, and is what they have to fix to salvage what’s left of it.

“We’ve improved on our mistakes week to week, but we’re still making too many,” Purvis said. “Last week it seemed like every mistake was worth seven points, and that’s hard to overcome.”

Friday’s game was a relatively late addition to the schedule. Porter’s Chapel had to find a new opponent when Claiborne Christian dropped down to the MAIS’ eight-man division during the offseason, and after some discussion and schedule shuffling Purvis and River Oaks coach Robert Hannah found a common date.

It’s the first time PCA and River Oaks have played each other since 2010. Hannah has coached the Mustangs for 33 years, however, so Purvis said there aren’t a lot of unknowns with facing an opponent none of his current players have seen. Hannah’s River Oaks teams have long had a reputation for their power running game, and Purvis said this year’s edition is no different.

River Oaks has alternated wins and losses through its first six games. It is coming off a 27-0 win over Deer Creek last week.

“I wouldn’t call it unfamiliar. River Oaks is who they are. They’re a ground and pound football team. They’re going to line it up and try to be more physical than you are,” Purvis said. “River Oaks has never been real flashy. They’re a hard-nosed, fundamentally sound, strong football team.”

All games start at 7 p.m.

Porter’s Chapel at River Oaks (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Neshoba Central at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Warren Central at Greenville (Radio: 105.5 FM)
St. Al at Central Holmes Christian (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Cathedral at Central Hinds
Tallulah Academy at Rebul Academy
Sharkey-Issaquena at Manchester
Port Gibson at Jefferson Davis County
Provine at Clinton
Madison Parish at Metairie Country Day

ONLINE: For live updates 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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