1:00 p.m. update
The Aug. 16 fire that destroyed the Purvis High School field house was set deliberately.
Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said this morning that county and state arson investigators had determined the fire was “incendiary in nature.”
Rigel declined to say what evidence had led to that conclusion, but asked that anyone with any information call the sheriff’s department at 794-8610 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 582-7867.
-Tim Doherty, Hattiesburg American
It was supposed to be a team-bonding activity.
Purvis coach Perry Wheat had his team gather on Aug. 15 at the school’s fieldhouse for an overnight lock-in.
Four hours after the players left on Saturday morning, the building caught fire. Much was lost including cameras for film, coaches’ offices, weight room equipment, helmets, jerseys and pads — the tools of the program wiped away.
“They investigated and still have to rule the actual reason for the fire,” Wheat said. “They still trying to figure out; it was an older building so it could be a number of things.”
Madison Central’s Will Brooks (left) and Brandon’s Chad Butcher battle in the secondary during the 2014 football season opener on Friday, August 22, at Brandon High School.
All that happened six days before the Tornadoes’ season opener at home against North Forrest.
“Coaches (from) all over … have offered to give us equipment, and I thought that was pretty special,” Wheat said. “People in Purvis have made donations and it has been really amazing; and our kids see the appreciation and have responded.”
After the word got out that Purvis’ fieldhouse had been destroyed, Wheat was on the phone with several coaches in the Hattiesburg area and the state. They were willing to donate equipment.
“Coaches are like a big fraternity,” Wheat said. “We want to beat each others brains out on Friday nights, but other than that, we are tight and are willing to help each other out.”
The team has two double-wide trailers for dressing rooms. But Wheat said the team is getting a bigger trailer that will have showers and ice machine. He said the kids are handling it fine.
Purvis responded on the field, too, defeating the Eagles 21-6 on Friday. Steven Curtis had three rushing touchdowns to lead the Tornadoes.
“It was the oddest game I have ever coached cause of heat and (it) was just miserable to play football,” Wheat said.
Purvis (1-0) travels to Bay High (0-1) this Friday.
To contact Brandon Shields, call (601) 961-7248. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @BShields_CL on Twitter.