PCA has its hands full against Manchester

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

Just rattling off the list of accolades for this week’s opponent makes it perfectly clear that Porter’s Chapel Academy coach Blake Purvis knows what his team is up against.

“Three straight championship appearances. They’ve lost four or five games in three years,” Purvis said. “They are probably the most fundamentally sound team in our class. You’re going to earn everything you get. You’re going to have to beat them and earn your victory.”

The juggernaut in question is Manchester Academy, the unquestioned king of the MAIS 8-man division even if it doesn’t currently hold the title.

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Manchester has won two state championships and played for two others ­— it lost in the Class 2A title game in 2021 — since joining the 8-man division in 2018. Its record in that span is 49-4, and beating them would be a milestone for a PCA program aspiring to reach that same level.

PCA and Manchester play Friday at 7 p.m. at PCA.

“I think it validates the process,” Purvis said of a potential victory. “It gives our guys confidence that they can compete with the best. I think they can, but it gives them something to hang their hat on and say, ‘We’re there. We can compete.’”

Both PCA and Manchester won their season openers. PCA blew out Kemper Academy 52-12, while Manchester topped Ben’s Ford 52-30.

PCA started slow against Kemper — it led just 14-6 at halftime — and then scored 30 points in the third quarter to blow the game open.

Six different players scored touchdowns, and quarterback John Wyatt Massey had two rushing TDs to go along with 72 yards on the ground and another 139 through the air. The defense held Kemper to minus-10 total yards through three quarters.

Purvis said even though the first half might have been closer than he’d like, he was more than pleased with the overall effort.

“I thought our offensive line played very well. We had time to throw the ball and lanes to run in,” Purvis said. “The attitude we had and the adjustments we made at halftime were positive. And then our defense played phenomenal all game. If we have that every week, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Besides a good effort on the field, Purvis is hoping a couple of other X-factors give the Eagles an extra edge against Manchester.

The first is last year’s game with the Mavericks. PCA fell behind 34-16 at halftime, then buckled down in the second half to make a game of it. The Eagles scored two late touchdowns but couldn’t recover an onside kick with about a minute left and lost 40-34.

Purvis said Manchester, which won the Class 2A championship in 2019 and 2020 and was on its way to an 11-2 record in 2021, brought an intimidation factor into that game.

“There’s no doubt that’s what we ran into last year when we were down three touchdowns at halftime,” Purvis said. “I’m hoping some of last year squashes it. We’re going to have to win all four quarters, and not one half, to win the game.”

The other intangible is what’s expected to be a large and vocal home crowd.

At halftime, PCA will retire the No. 72 jersey of Miles Hallberg. Hallberg was a 1983 graduate who went on to play at Mississippi College and was the first player from Porter’s Chapel to receive a college football scholarship.

More than 100 members of Hallberg’s friends and family are expected to attend, and should add some extra volume to PCA’s cheering section.

“I hope it’s a rowdy crowd,” Purvis said. “It’s natural, whether they believe it or not, when they get people cheering you on for it to play a part in the game. Hopefully we’ll have a large home field crowd this week.”

r-Vicksburg vs. Germantown, 6 p.m. (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Manchester at Porter’s Chapel, 7 p.m. (Radio: 104.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Centreville Academy, 7 p.m. (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Franklin Academy, 7 p.m.
r-Forest Hill at Warren Central, 8 p.m. (Radio: 105.5 FM)
r-Red Carpet Bowl, at Warren Central

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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