PCA, St. Al getting split up in MAIS realignment plan

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

Two years after they became district opponents, St. Aloysius and Porter’s Chapel are going their separate ways in the next cycle of realignment by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools.’

The two Vicksburg schools will be placed in different classifications under the MAIS’ recently completed plan, which also includes a new numbering system. St. Al will be in Class 5A for football and Class 4A for all other sports, while Porter’s Chapel will be in Class 3A for football and Class 2A for other sports.

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The teams will likely still play each other in most sports, but PCA football coach Blake Purvis said the difference in the schools’ sizes could put their crosstown football rivalry on hiatus.

“That’s going to be out of our hands when it goes to the Association. I like the game. It’s good for the town. But the size difference may get us for a few years. We’ll have to wait and see,” Purvis said. “St. Al has 90 boys and we have 35, which is what they base the football classifications off of. So that’s triple our size. That’s like St. Al playing (Jackson) Prep when you’re talking about that kind of size comparison.”

The MAIS’ new alignment puts approximately 16 teams in each football classification except for Class 6A, which contains the six largest schools. Classes 1A and 2A are eight-man football leagues, which makes PCA’s Class 3A the smallest 11-man classification.

PCA will be in District 3-3A with Glenbrook Academy, Greenville Christian and Greenville-St. Joseph for football. PCA, the Greenville schools, Benton Academy and Manchester Academy comprise District 2-2A for all other sports.

The make up of both its district and Class 3A in general means PCA will have a number of long road trips next football season. Glenbrook is a two-hour drive, and the two Greenville schools are both about 90 minutes away. The closest Class 3A school is Benton Academy, 45 minutes away in Yazoo City.

With seven open playing dates, Purvis will either have to schedule games against larger schools or get creative. He said he’s looking at playing some games against independent schools in Louisiana and Alabama to avoid playing up too often, but admitted that will mean a lot of highway miles the next two seasons.

The MAIS office will compile the final 2019-20 football schedule and release it this winter, but member schools have some input on games.

“Everybody close to us is going to be much larger than we are. So we’re going to have to go on the road to play similar-sized schools and play matchups that are good for us,” Purvis said. “I’m trying to get a mix of schools our size and keep travel in mind. We’re going to have to make some trips the next two years.”

St. Al’s biggest problem next football season appears to be one of competition more than logistics. It will be in District 2-5A along with Adams County Christian, Copiah Academy, Central Hinds and Silliman.

Silliman and Central Hinds won their respective district titles this season, and ACCS was on track to do the same until having seven wins stripped by the MAIS for using an ineligible player. ACCS still made the Class AAA playoffs despite having a 2-8 record after forfeiting those victories. Copiah is a Class AAAA school that is dropping down in size.

“It’s just like anything else. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best no matter where you go,” St. Al football coach Michael Fields said. “Six classes made a lot of difference. You’re playing a lot of different schools. It’s hard to get familiar with anybody. You have to be steadfast in what you’re doing, because as soon as you get used to playing somebody it changes.”

In sports other than football, St. Al will have a completely different district and classification. It will be in District 3-4A with Central Hinds, Hillcrest Christian, Hartfield Academy, Park Place Christian and Simpson Academy.

St. Al, Central Hinds, Hillcrest and Park Place are all currently in the same district. Hartfield and Simpson are in Class AAAA-Division II.

The vast difference between the two districts led Fields to express some surprise.

“I’m more confused than ever. We’ve got all these teams up here and we end up down south,” he said.

Among other Vicksburg-area schools:

• Tallulah Academy and Briarfield Academy will be district mates in Class 1A, the smallest eight-man football league. They will join Tensas Academy and Prairie View in District 3-1A.

Both schools will also be in Class 1A for non-football sports, but in different districts. Tallulah will be in District 4-1A with Tensas, Franklin Academy, Prairie View, Central Academy and Riverdale. Briarfield will join Sharkey-Issaquena, Deer Creek, Humphreys Academy and Delta Streets in District 2-1A.

• For football, Sharkey-Issaquena Academy will be in the eight-man Class 2A classification. It will be in District 2-2A along with Delta Streets, Humphreys Academy, Manchester Academy, Kemper Academy, Calvary Christian and Hebron Christian.

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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