Porter’s Chapel, Tallulah Academy tussle for MAIS District 3-2A crown

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022

Porter’s Chapel Academy and Tallulah Academy will both participate in the MAIS Class 2A playoffs.

Everything else — where they’ll go, who they’ll face, their path through the bracket and more — is what’s at stake in their winner-take-all showdown Friday night.

PCA and Tallulah will square off for the MAIS District 3-2A championship. The winner also gets a first-round bye in the playoffs, perhaps a more favorable draw in the bracket, and bragging rights in a growing rivalry.

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“It’s huge,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “It’s about as big of a difference as you can get. If we have to go to Ben’s Ford, that’s probably one of the longest road trips you can take. Not to mention if you win you stay away from the bottom half of the bracket and if you lose you’re playing the No. 1 seed.”

Tallulah Academy (7-1, 1-0 District 3-2A) has won four games in a row and its playoff scenario is clear. If it beats PCA, it will be the No. 3 seed and get a first-round bye. If it loses, it will likely be the No. 6 seed, play next week, and then have a potential rematch with Porter’s Chapel in round two.

Like Purvis, Tallulah coach Bart Wood said avoiding a long road trip is the biggest reward for winning the district title.

“We’re going to shake out on the same teams we’re playing. It’s just home field advantage,” Wood said. “Christian Collegiate is a four-hour drive. Newton is two hours. That’s a lot. It’s huge.”

Whoever the opponent is does not seem to matter to the Trojans at the moment. All seven of their wins have been by at least 18 points, and many were not even as close as the final score indicated.

They led previously-unbeaten Newton Academy by 44 points in the fourth quarter last week before giving up two late touchdowns with the backups and settling for a 52-22 win.

“I don’t think we could have played a better game than we played last Friday,” Wood said. “I don’t know how you hold Newton to eight points. I never dreamed we could hold them to that. We were executing everything. When you have this many seniors, that’s what’s supposed to happen.”

Porter’s Chapel (4-4, 1-0), meanwhile, is coming into its biggest game in more than a decade in a bit of a slump. It beat Prairie View 50-42 on Sept. 30, but has been outscored 78-19 in two losses since then. It did not score in the first half of either game.

Purvis felt the Eagles played better than the final score indicated in last week’s 36-13 loss to Christian Collegiate Academy, and that a couple of injuries contributed to the recent slide. Still, he added, they need to refocus if they want to win the school’s first district championship since 2008.

“We should be back to a full roster and healthy for the first time since Prairie View. Hopefully that’s part of it,” Purvis said. “We’ve just got to do what we’ve been trying to do all year, and that’s focus on ourselves and what we can control.”

Unlike Tallulah Academy, whose playoff path seems set, PCA’s situation is much more volatile. It will be the No. 3 seed and earn a bye if it wins Friday. If it loses, the MAIS power points system could shuffle it as far down as the No. 9 seed.

The Nos. 5-8 seeds host first-round games, so if the Eagles are ninth they will go on the road to Bogalusa, La., next week to play Ben’s Ford. PCA beat Ben’s Ford in the regular season, but a four-hour road trip followed by a potential second-round matchup with No. 1 seed Tunica Academy is not a scenario anyone wants.

“You get in and you’ve got a chance. Wherever the cards shuffle out, the goal is to win it all. If that’s the plan you’re going to have to beat the best anyway,” Purvis said. “That’s the joy of playing the game.”

FRIDAY’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
Neshoba Central at Vicksburg (Radio: 107.7 FM)
Terry at Warren Central (Radio: 105.5 FM)
St. Aloysius at Tri-County (Radio: 101.3 FM)
Porter’s Chapel at Tallulah Academy (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Newton at Port Gibson
Northeast Baptist at Briarfield Academy
Sharkey-Issaquena Academy at Tensas Academy
St. Andrew’s at Central Hinds
Madison Parish at Oak Grove (La.)

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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