Porter’s Chapel adds plenty of depth ahead of season opener vs. Kemper

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

Of all the work and adjustments that Porter’s Chapel Academy has made during training camp, few might wind up being as effective as adding a few names to the roster.

PCA has added four players in the last three weeks, providing extra depth as well as talent heading into Friday night’s season opener at home against Kemper Academy. They could also push the Eagles from being merely a playoff team to a championship contender in MAIS Class 2A.

“We’ve got enough guys and depth that we’ve been able to practice and get good looks on both sides of the ball,” PCA head coach Blake Purvis said. “We feel a little ahead of the game because of that. We feel good going into Week 1 instead of trying to figure it out.”

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The four players — wide receiver/defensive back Devin Allen; running back/linebacker Ty Mack; tight end/fullback/defensive end Jacob Rutland; and wide receiver/linebacker Noah Porter — transferred in from various schools as the school year began. All of them contributed during the Eagles’ jamboree games last week.

Mack started at running back and scored two touchdowns as PCA tied Tensas 12-12 and beat Briarfield 6-0. Rutland often served as a lead blocker, while Allen started at cornerback and Porter saw time on both sides of the ball.

Mack and Rutland, Purvis said, both filled holes that the team was lacking. They will allow him to move other players to their more natural positions.

“Jacob was a different player that we didn’t have. He fit a hole that we were searching for in that lead blocking role. He slid into a spot where we weren’t sure who was going to fit in,” Purvis said. “Ty gives us another real good option at running back with Jase Jung. It frees Taylor (LaBarre) up to be a receiver, which is what his skills are suited for.”

Another benefit of the new additions is having more players to work with in practice. PCA only has about 20 on the roster most years, and many of them play offense and defense. It makes getting quality reps in practice difficult, since the starters go against backups or junior high players instead of other varsity players.

Now, Purvis said, the Eagles are able to field a starting offense and defense that makes practice more competitive as well as giving the starters breathers during games. There are now 27 players on the roster.

“I think our depth is really good. We played a lot of guys in the last two weeks and have a lot of guys that can make plays. We’re going to be in a position where we have a fresh offense and defense,” Purvis said. “We’re not just playing with 16 guys. That’s going to be a huge benefit, is having some primary guys on both sides of the ball.”

The four new players are not the only reason the Eagles are expecting to build on last year’s playoff appearance. Twelve of the sixteen starting positions are back, including linemen Maureon Simms and Matt Malone, and receivers LaBarre and Thomas Azlin.

Quarterback John Wyatt Massey is in his first year as a starter but has looked good. He’s thrown a total of four touchdown passes in preseason scrimmages against Prairie View, Tensas and Briarfield.

“I think we’re throwing the ball pretty well. (Massey) has got a lot of weapons at his disposal. Any of the guys he gets the ball to has a chance of making a play,” Purvis said. “This is his first meaningful reps he’s taken in two years, since he played in junior high. But he’s knocking the rust off and working daily, and getting better.”

FRIDAY’S GAMES
Preseason scrimmages
Warren Central at Madison Central, 6 p.m.
Natchez at Vicksburg, 6 p.m.
Regular season
All games at 7 p.m.
Park Place at St. Aloysius
Kemper Academy at Porter’s Chapel
Briarfield Academy at Tallulah Academy
Humphreys Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena
Washington School at Central Hinds

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 139-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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