Despite being disqualified from this year’s playoffs by the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the Presbyterian Christian School football team will see postseason action in a bowl game this week.
In a letter sent to PCS parents and family, PCS Headmaster Allen O. Smithers said the Bobcats will travel to Bonifay, Florida, on November 7 for a 7 p.m. game against the Holmes County Blue Devils in The First Federal Bank Bowl game.
“The First Federal Bank Bowl game hopes to include some scheduled joint volunteer service work by both teams, shared meals, and devotions together,” Smithers said.” We are determined to take this negative situation and turn it into something beautiful.
“With your help, it is our hope that this bowl game can be an opportunity to put the forgiveness and grace of Christ on display. We ask that you join us in prayer as these details are ironed out and we prepare for this final game of the season for our football program.”
Late last month, Smithers sent out a letter informing the PCS family the MAIS had disqualified the Bobcats from the playoffs after the team suffered several season-ending injuries to players that forced the school to forfeit three junior varsity games. The injuries left the school with only five healthy ninth-graders and four healthy eighth-graders, which would have forced the school to move up its seventh-graders to the junior varsity team to complete the season.
In order to protect the physical safety of the players, school officials decided to forfeit the final three junior varsity games while still playing the seventh and eighth-grade schools, but then learned of an MAIS rule that states if a junior varsity team didn’t compete for the championship, the varsity team from the same school would be disqualified from competing in the playoffs.
Smithers later met with the MAIS Executive Committee in Jackson to appeal the ruling, but his request for appeal was not granted. Despite the ruling, Smithers maintained his belief that the team had earned its spot in the playoffs.
“I have watched them put in time in the weight room, I have watched them study diligently for their exams, and I have watched them put hours and hours on the field,” he said. “It is frustrating to see the unfairness of this decision and how it impacts our entire team, especially our seniors.
“Secondly, we have the absolute best PCS family, and I am so grateful for you. You are plugged in and involved at every level, and our PCS football program is one of the many places we all come together. Thank you for being there for our student athletes, our coaches, and our staff.”
Smith said securing the bowl game was made possible with the help of PCS head coach Derek White and athletic director Rob Shillito.
“(Our) teachers, administration, staff, and coaches have walked alongside me in the unfairness of this process, and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else by my side,” Smithers said. “It is frustrating that our efforts (for the appeal) were not fruitful.
“I am grateful to the LORD that our players have mentors like each of you to look up to, as they wade through one of the many constants of this life…disappointment. May we all be equipped to ever point them to their Savior, and especially so, through this.”
Holmes County, based out of Bontifay, is currently 5-5 and is coached by Jeff Lee. According to maxpreps.com, the team is ranked 433 in the state of Florida.
“As I’ve said from the beginning, and it continues to be true: we serve a sovereign God who works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose,” Smithers said. “Now, the entire PCS Family has a mighty and important charge - to show the love of Jesus in the midst of our disappointment. I know we will be given the grace required to be faithful in this charge.”