By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
It's a close to a must win game as a team can get mid-way through the season.
That's the situation facing Pearl River Central tonight, as the Blue Devils head to Ellisville to face homestanding South Jones in Region 3-5A play. Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m.
PRC stands 1-4 overall, after opening district play with a loss to West Jones last week. Both teams are 0-1 in league play, and the Braves are 1-4 overall as well.
"If we don't win this one we could be out of it," PRC head coach Eric Collins, whose team has played in the last two Class 5A South State championship games, said. "We haven't won as many games as we'd like to so far, but not all is lost. All of our goals are still attainable. Our kids are resilient. We will keep fighting."
The Blue Devils have been handled fairly well by the opposition during a three games losing streak, losing games by a total of 91 points. Oak Grove beat PRC 45-14, Picayune won 54-23 and West Jones won 35-6.
Pearl River Central has been hampered by injuries and suspensions so far, as all-state place-kicker Jovan Detto has yet to play this season. Top running backs Bryson Penton and Garrett Duplechain have also missed time with injuries, as has tight end Kaleb Morales. Four year starting quarterback Dylan Spiers missed a season-opening overtime loss to Gulfport.
"We played hard last week, we just have to handle the ball better," Collins added. "We have lost to four really good football teams. but turnovers have been doing us in."
South Jones is coming off a 64-14 loss to Jackson Wingfield. The Braves only win so far this season was a 32-16 win over George County. George County won its first game of the year last week over hapless Long Beach.
The Braves are led on offense by junior quarterback Ethan Laird and tailback Sean Phillips as well as standout tight end Rylan Ford. Defensively, linebackers Lionel Tucker and W.C. Barlow led the way, along with end Zach Wolverton and safety Sam Barnes.
South Jones finished last year 4-7 under third year head coach Chet Bergalowski. These two teams haven't played in the recent past.
One factor making this game an almost must win for PRC to stay in the playoff hunt is the fact that they still have the top two teams in the league lying ahead, in Wayne County and Laurel, as well as Brookhaven and Natchez.
"Our expectations are high after the past two seasons, and we haven't played up to that level yet," Collins concluded. "We need to change that this week. We need a win."