PCA gets back to work in Round 2 of MAIS playoffs

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, November 2, 2023

In 2021, Porter’s Chapel Academy made its return to the football playoffs after a six-year absence. In 2022, it won a playoff game for the first time in 14 years.

In 2023, the Eagles are ready to take the next step — and, hopefully, a couple more beyond that.

PCA (11-0) will begin what it hopes is a deep postseason run Friday night when it hosts Deer Creek (5-6) in the second round of the MAIS Class 2A playoffs. It’s already been a dream season for the Eagles, but they’re certainly not satisfied with what they’ve accomplished so far.

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“All year long we’ve been compared to 2008. You want to stay in that conversation or put yourselves down in the history books, everything is big. A win this week equals where they were at, and beyond that you’ve got the chance to be the first in school history to do anything. It doesn’t get any bigger than that,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said.

This is the best season for Porter’s Chapel since the 2008 team won its first 13 games and reached the Class 1A semifinals. Despite being one of only two undefeated teams in Class 2A this season, PCA earned the No. 4 seed for the playoffs because of the MAIS power points system.

Purvis said seeding and win-loss records lose some meaning once the postseason begins, however. While other teams might want to hand the Eagles their first loss, being three wins away from a state championship is what everyone is focused on now.

“There’s definitely a target on our back. Regardless of our seed, we’re still undefeated and everybody wants to be the one to knock that off,” Purvis said. “I think we have to come with the same intensity and mentality that we did since Week Zero against River Oaks — which is essentially what everybody is now, is 1-0 or 0-0. It doesn’t matter what 11 games you won before this. If you can’t take care of it week by week now it’s all for nil.”

Porter’s Chapel won the District 3-2A championship, its first since 2008, and earned a first-round bye. It was off last week while Deer Creek grinded out a 20-13 victory against Prairie View Academy.

While it was nice to have time to collect their thoughts, celebrate, and heal some bumps and bruises, Purvis said there is always a danger of getting out of rhythm following an open date. He believes, however, that his players are well-suited to handle it the same way they have the first 11 games.

“We’re through that. We’re back in game week,” he said. “We started it (Sunday) with film and we’re treating it just like the last 11. I think the guys will bounce back fine and we’ll be good.”

Deer Creek started 1-5 against a difficult schedule, then rallied to win its next four. It scored 46, 48 and 46 in its last three regular-season games.

Purvis said the Warriors have an offense capable of giving his defense problems.

“It’s not the best match-up for us. They’re a big power run team. They’ve got really good size up front and they like to run downhill, which has given us a little bit of problems the last couple weeks,” Purvis said. “They’ve got some playmakers. You don’t get in this position without them. It’ll be tough on our guys. We’ll have to buckle down and adjust our defensive scheme to match up with the power run.”

Of course, PCA has plenty of playmakers of its own. It swept the District 3-2A awards, with tight end/linebacker Thomas Azlin getting the Overall MVP; quarterback John Wyatt Massey and running back Jase Jung sharing the Offensive MVP; and lineman Conley Johnston winning the Defensive MVP.

PCA has set a school record for points in a season, with 547, and is averaging 389.8 yards per game.
Their biggest asset, however, might be maturity and experience. With eight returning starters among their 13 varsity players, the Eagles have had enough tests during their high school careers to handle whatever is thrown at them the next few weeks.

“I think these guys understand it. They’ve been in the boat. They lost a close one two years ago, and were able to get a win at home last year and see what the top of the class looks like when we went to Tunica,” Purvis said. “We’ve experienced a lot the last two years in the playoffs and our opponents, with road games and home games, and it’s win or go home at this point. I think the mentality of these guys, if they keep what they have all year long and take it one game at a time, I think we’ll be OK.”

All games start at 7 p.m.
Deer Creek at Porter’s Chapel (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Lee Academy, Arkansas
Franklin Academy at Sharkey-Issaquena
Briarfield Academy at Riverdale
Centreville Academy at Central Hinds
Madison Parish at General Trass

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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