Pearl River Central overcame difficult circumstances to win the - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pearl River Central overcame difficult circumstances to win the Region 4-5A Title

CARRIERE, MS (WLOX) -

The Blue Devils overcame difficult circumstances to claim the Region 4-5A title. PRC had to deal with the death of a teammate right before the 2015 season kicked off.

16-year-old Shane Smith died in a tragic auto accident in July.  His locker has been enclosed by glass.  Inside, his No. 15 jersey, his cleats, helmet, a Gatorade bottle and a plastic cup that he left the same day right before the accident.

Pearl River Central head coach Eric Collins says the team dedicated the 2015 season in his memory.

The Blue Devils responded, running off a 10-1 record, captured the Region 4-5A title, undefeated at 7 and 0, winning the first district championship since 1995.

Collins said, "Our kids are a tight knit group of guys.  They have a lot of faith in each other and I think a lot of that has to do with the loss of a player before the season started and that kind of solidified our brotherhood.:

The highlight of the season, so far, was beating Picayune for the first time in 20 years.

"Each year that we played them we felt like we were getting a little closer and that our program was getting a little better and better, "stated Collins. "Finally to get over the hump meant a lot to us."

Pearl River Central runs the old Wing-t, a grind-it-out offense.  Three Blue Devils have rushed over a thousand yards, Hunter Holifield, Michael Tatman and Christian Roberts.  The 6-foot, 190 pound senior has 12-hundred-52 yards rushing with a team leading 19 touchdowns.  He says the loss of Shane Smith brought the team closer together.

Roberts said, "It was heart breaking to us but we dedicated the season to him, to Shane, and I think he would be proud of us."

The Natchez-Pearl River Central clash will be one of six playoff games to be featured on the Friday Night Football showdown beginning at 10:15 p.m. on WLOX-ABC/CBS.

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