Drop in class pits Prentiss against old rival Heidelberg
GOING OVER THINGS Heidelberg Academy head coach Tom Lewis, left, and seniors Brannon Smith, Blake Bass and Jeremy Eason talk over their roster with MPSA Public Address Announcer, James Ethridge. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Nov. 19, 2002
JACKSON The best thing about the Mississippi Private School Association's realignment this past summer for Prentiss Christian School head coach Dan Fails was a drop out of the AA class.
That was one of the top comments amid a sea of praise at Monday's MPSA football championship week press conference Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, which is located next to Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson.
Prentiss Christian, 12-1, will meet Heidelberg Academy, also 12-1, for the MPSA Academy A Championship on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Mississippi College's Robinson-Hale Stadium in Clinton.
The three other championship games are: AA North Delta School against Oak Forest on Thursday night at 7; AAA Division II Magnolia Heights against MRA on Friday at 1 p.m.; AAA Division I Jackson Prep against Jackson Academy on Friday at 7 p.m.
Just about every one of the eight head coaches representing the eight MPSA finalists, expressed joy in reaching the title game. This included Fails and Heidelberg's Tom Lewis.
Fails says his Saints were 3-8 last year while playing against the likes of Oak Forest, La., who made it back to the AA finals for a second straight year.
Prentiss Christian and Heidelberg are no strangers to each other. Thursday's championship will be the 12th meeting for the two schools. Heidelberg owns a 9-2 edge in the series.
Yet the Saints have had the better success in the post-season. Both Prentiss Christian wins came in the playoffs.
Prentiss Christian beat Heidelberg 21-7 in 1993 for the South State title. The Saints then won the school's second MPSA Championship by beating Central Hinds 10-7 at Jackson Prep. Prentiss' first state title came in 1987.
The last meeting with Heidelberg came in 1999 for the AA semifinal. PCS won 9-7 at Prentiss. Heidelberg had beaten the Saints 20-14 in overtime at Heidelberg earlier that same season.
This is the seventh time Heidelberg has made it to a MPSA final. The Rebels have won four championships including 1980, 1981, 1994 and 2000. The Rebels defeated Tri-County 27-7 for the MPSA A crown at Mississippi College in 2000.
Lewis later said he is respectful of Prentiss' playoff tradition.
But with the game on Thursday, it means a short week of preparation. The good news for Lewis' staff is that Prentiss Christian runs the Wing-T much like Wayne who Heidelberg beat 6-0 for the North State A title last Friday in Heidelberg.
The key for the Saints has been their ball-hogging offense.
Quarterback Riggin Lott says the Saints operate on pretty simple philosophy.