Porter’s Chapel preps for scrimmage, Week Zero football opener

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 30, 2023

Throughout the summer, Porter’s Chapel Academy’s football team has tried to stay one step ahead.

It’s not just a cheesy motivational slogan, either. It’s a necessity.

The Eagles are among 24 teams in the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools who will play a “Week Zero” game on Aug. 11, a week before the rest of the association’s members.

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It’s changed PCA’s approach to offseason workouts a bit and shortened their preseason practice time. While some MAIS teams get two scrimmage games before their season openers, PCA will only get one. It’ll host the Mississippi Phoenix Sports Academy, a home school organization from the Jackson Metro area, on Friday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m.

The season opener is the following Friday against River Oaks in Monroe, Louisiana.

“We have to take care of our guys because of our numbers. We can’t just kill their legs and wear them all the way down because it is going to be a long season,” Purvis said. “There’s going to be tough weeks ahead, so all of that has to be taken into account even when we started back in June. We have to look at the October-November picture back in June and we can’t just try to do it all at one time.”

Managing the workload and their bodies has been something on the minds of PCA’s players as well. There are only 13 players in grades 10-12 on the roster, which is a small number even in the MAIS’ eight-man division.

Avoiding injuries will obviously be critical to the Eagles’ success, but so will making sure they take care of the inevitable bumps and bruises that do pop up.

“It’s all about recovery during the week. On Friday night, everybody gets beat up. Both teams. It’s all about who recovers the fastest,” senior quarterback John Wyatt Massey said.

Even with the early start, Purvis wasn’t too concerned with missing an extra week of summer conditioning. He was more worried, from a mental standpoint, about the following week when the Eagles have to jump right into the regular season.

“The week early really is only the first regular-season game, because we’ve always started official practice this week and scrimmaged at the end of the second week. So that next week will all be normal for us,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “It’s the week after being game week that’s normally more of a jamboree week for us. It’s going to be a factor. We’re going to have to lock in. We need to be a week ahead.”

Purvis added that he likes where his team is at in its offseason timeline, and that it’s well-built to overcome the challenges of an early start. Eleven of the 13 varsity players are juniors and seniors, and seven of those are returning starters.

The experience and maturity they’re bringing, Purvis said, has been evident the past couple of months.

“Coming out of last year, I felt like we were already going to be a week ahead with the guys that we returned. We only lost three seniors. We’re returning our offensive production and a lot of our defensive production,” Purvis said. “All summer long, even with our depth, the guys have worked hard. I’ve been as excited as ever in the summer, because I know it’s only a matter of the ball bouncing our way. We have to get the breaks and stay healthy. I really believe if we do that, it’s going to be a fun ride with these guys.”

In addition to PCA, St. Aloysius and Tallulah Academy will play preseason scrimmages on Aug. 4.
St. Al goes to Yazoo City to play Benton Academy at 6 p.m.

Tallulah Academy, meanwhile, will go to Monroe for a four-way scrimmage vs. River Oaks, Union Academy, Briarfield and Franklin Academy. The teams will take turns playing 10-play series against each other, rather than a tradition game format.

Friday, Aug. 4
6 p.m. – Talllulah Academy at River Oaks
6 p.m. – St. Al at Benton Academy
7 p.m. – Phoenix Sports Academy at Porter’s Chapel Academy

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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