News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Pearl River Central Blue Devils
One month from today, News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days will be over. We’ve still got a lot of real estate to cover from now until the first Friday of the high school football season with Pearl River Central checking in as stop number four on “Baddest Devil Week.”
“Oh, it’s awesome because the competition gets us ready for Friday nights.”
“Yeah, everybody is competing to get on the board. I know I am.”
“Right before you’re about to max and you’ve just got everybody yelling at you, it’s just an amazing adrenaline feeling, and then whenever you get it and everybody is cheering you on, it’s just a crazy good feeling.”
The unofficial start to football season at Pearl River Central, “Baddest Devil Week” is the program’s annual Four-Day gym rat paradise. Head Coach Jacob Owen said, “To me, it represents the beginning of football season. You know when you hit this week it’s close. It’s right around the corner. So, it’s about competition. It’s about competing with yourself, competing with your teammates, it’s about overcoming adversity because we encourage these guys to go for it. If they’ve never benched 330 pounds, it’s Baddest Devil Week. Let’s put it on the bar and do it.”
Broken into three teams Monday through Thursday, varsity players compete in bench press, squats, power clean, dot drill, box jump, broad jump, a one-mile run, and the 20- and 40-yard dash. All for the right to earn a permanent spot on the wall and for one really Bad Devil, a place as one of four team captains. Wide Receiver/ Cornerback Xion Lockhart said, “Basically, brings everybody together, and most people want to come out and compete and see who’s the best.”
Right guard/ defensive end Avery Strain said, “Oh man, it means a lot. Baddest Devil Week is pretty much all the work that you’ve put in to work up to competing against your teammates. It’s about the only time we all compete against each other because usually we’re all working together, so it’s real fun and everybody’s hype.”
Easy to be piped up when things are going well, but the Blue Devils got an unexpected crash course in handling adversity in 2020 with an overall record of just 3-7 despite starting the season with two straight wins. Quarterback/ linebacker Dalton Lee said, “Pretty much every game at halftime, we were like yeah, we got this. And then we come out flat.”
Left tackle/ nose guard Andrew Lee said, “Those first two games we had last year, if we were to play like that every game, we would’ve been a great team because we all played together. We worked together. No one had a bad attitude.”
“Our attitude is great after the first two weeks of the season. Cause we’re 2-0. I mean, yeah, alright. What’s going to happen when you lose a game?”
The Blue Devils got their answer and going just 1-6 in region 4 class 5A games wasn’t the answer they were looking for. But at least they’re asking all the right questions, now nine years removed from the program’s back-to-back South State appearances and craving a piece of that tradition pie for their very own. “Oh, it would mean everything. It would make a stamp, foundation for years to come.”
“I don’t know how much other people think about it. But any time I come in here, and I see those signs, it makes me want one for our class, for our team that’s in here. And we haven’t put one up there since 2015. It’s about time. We’re ready.”
More recently, PRC is still looking for its first winning season, playoff appearance, and district title since that 2015 campaign.
Behind 17 seniors, eight returning starters, a player driven Bible study, and a run it down your throat gameplan, the Blue Devils once again take aim, not at what’s already on the wall, but what could be. “I got some dogs on my team. I know we’re going to compete with everybody.”
“Every day we’re reminded that we can go 11-0 if we want to. It just depends on how we prepare in there.”
“We put these up there to motivate them and also to pay homage to the teams that have come here before. If you make the state playoffs, you deserve a sign on the wall. If you’re a South State champion, you deserve a sign on the wall. You’ve worked to put yourself in that position. But really, the focus is being the best version of the 2021 Blue Devils that we can be.”
PRC has six core values: be tough always, work hard daily, love your brother, those hand-picked by the coaches, and then passion, resilience, commitment, standing for PRC, as voted on by the players.
The Blue Devils kick off their 2021 slate with an August 27th home game against Hancock.