PCS puts 4-0 mark on the line at Lamar

By CAMAL PETRO,

MERIDIAN – PCS coach Joey Hawkins said prior to official practice beginning it’d take at least four weeks into the regular season to build his team’s offensive identity. Whether or not the Bobcats have achieved that, and it seems they’re on the right track, they’re 4-0 on the young season.

Through the first four games, the PCS rushing attack has averaged 336 yards per game and has totaled 16 touchdowns. Senior Sheldon James leads the offense with 653 yards and five scores on 80 carries while junior Alden Rhian has 295 yards and three touchdowns on 34 attempts. Sophomore Eric Robinson and junior quarterback Brandon Thornton also have recorded more than 120 yards

“You’re always seeking to find a way to move the chains,” Hawkins said. “Our running backs have run hard and we’ve blocked fairly well, so we just have to continue to play at a faster pace. We’re doing some good things, and we’ve had a good start. Now we have to just polish it up.

“The key to the offense in football is moving the chains. Last week we stayed behind them a lot. We have to clean that up.”

Even though PCS added its fourth win of the season last week against Simpson Academy, it was easily its least productive game on offense. But, a win is a win, and the Bobcats walked away with a 26-8 triumph. PCS rushed for only 176 yards as a team, as no player reached 100 yards on the ground, and Thornton only had 65 yards on 4-of-7 passing.

“They played hard, and they had some really physical players. They made it tough on us,” Hawkins said of Simpson Academy.

This week’s opponent, Lamar (2-3), is a product of a tough schedule, and its record shows that. With losses to Starkville Academy (3-1), Jackson Academy (4-0) and MHSAA Newton (4-0), the Raiders have played as tough of an opening schedule as they could.

Most players are back for Lamar, and Hawkins, who was watching film during this weekly interview, admitted this week will be tough for his team.

“They’re getting better, I’m telling you,” Hawkins said. “Their defense has improved each game, and you know they’re going to move the ball. They have an outstanding passer with great receivers and a running back, so we have a big chore this week.”

Listed at 6-foot-6-inches, junior Joseph Hutchinson finished the season as quarterback last year after starter went down with an injury, so he has experience, and senior running back JT McCelland and senior receiver Elon Presley are two playmakers the Bobcats’ defense will have to keep an eye on the entire game.

Defensively, the Raiders have allowed 26 points per game to their opponents, but again, they’ve played some tough opponents. Hawkins said his players are going to have to establish blocks, finish those blocks and run downhill to see success.

“Each week we’re trying to get greater focus and more attention to detail. It’s really simple, just do your job,” Hawkins said. “It takes all 11 of them, and I can’t have just eight. It takes 11 of them each play to do their job.”

The 4-0 start has been great for PCS, but Hawkins made sure to reiterate his team hasn’t played a conference game yet. When asked if he thought before the season his team could have started 4-0, he said he’s proud of his team, but that’s not how he looks at PCS’ early season success.

“I just take it one day at a time,” Hawkins said. “Today’s Monday, and you have to get off to a good start of preparation. Everybody we play is good. There is no team out there where we can just show up and win. We have to play well against this Lamar team. We’re proud of where we’re at, but we haven’t even played a conference game yet.”