Football Game with Gulf Coast Rescheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1
CLARKSDALE –Despite a nightmare schedule, limited practice time, and an open-season recruiting ruling favoring large colleges, Coahoma Community College’s Freeman Horton calls his 2012 Tigers “very competitive” and says he “is welcoming challenges as opportunities.”
“I like what we have and I like the effort,“ continued Horton.
When CCC kicks off the season at home this week against Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Tigers will be facing five back-to-back contests with preseason nationally-ranked teams.
Originally scheduled for Thursday night, August 30, in Clarksdale, the opening game officially has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, because of Hurricane Isaac, according to Horton, CCC athletic director and head coach.
“Gulf Coast ranks third; Hinds, sixth; Northwest 11th; Pearl River is in the Top 20; and East Mississippi is number one,” says Horton.
Mississippi Junior College football has been labeled “The toughest football league in America,” in “ Mississippi Jucos” published in 2011 by the Mississippi Sports Council.
Following the opening game with Gulf Coast, the Tigers play three consecutive games on the road before returning to Clarksdale Sept. 27 to battle East Mississippi, the nation’s number one preseason team.
Horton says recruiting rules were changed last fall from past years when players in each district were protected from out-of-district raiding.
Now, all colleges can recruit players anywhere in the state.
“The teams in the South – Jones Junior College, Co-Lin, Hinds, and Gulf Coast have hurt us,” he said.
“We lost four from West Bolivar; players from Clarksdale and Charleston,” he continued. “The kids go to other places; we hope it will balance out.”
Creating a double-whammy obstacle for CCC was outlawing Tiger recruiting in Memphis schools – a rich source of talent – especially offensive linemen.
“These changes were made before last December by the college presidents, and Dr. Presley (CCC president) was the only one to vote against them,” explains Horton.
Additionally, he says all other JUCO teams are three to four weeks ahead of Coahoma, because their players were enrolled in summer school.
“Our cafeteria was not open this summer; we had eight player here on campus,” he said. “We are playing catch-up, since we are the only school in the state of Mississippi without a summer program with on-campus facilities
Asked about Coahoma’s offense and the quarterback position, Horton replied, “We’ll find out August 30; we’re basically starting all over and will be passing and running 50-50.”
Contenders for quarterback include two freshman: Roger McKee and Quantavious Peterson of Shelby (no relation to the basketball Peterson dynasty).
Returning offensive players include running backs Elias Wells and Daveonn Porter, and two offensive linemen: Shannon Tyler and LaDarian Lloyd.
Nine starters are returning on defense: Steven Horton, Timothy Buckley, Deandre Jones, Donnie Tenner, defensive backs; Damien Samuels; linebackers Ryan Self and LaKendrick Conley; Devin Salis, defensive end; and Jamal Cooper, defensive lineman.
“We’re experienced in linebackers and the secondary, but will have to play two freshmen,” Horton said.
Coahoma’s new kicker is Jonathan O’Hara from South Walton Beach, Fla.
“Looking good,” according to Horton, are wide receiver Jordan Taylor of Lake Cormorant; defensive end Isaiah Corbett from Florida, a transfer from Delta State; and defensive lineman Keeland McElrath of Ripley, Tenn, at 6-4, 290.
Horton is high also on his experienced coaching staff including William Kirksey, Kendrick Travis, Kenneth Strong, and Billy Fields plus two new assistant coaches: Sean Norris, a New York native who played at Clemson and is coaching wide receivers and quarterbacks and Landon Cobbs, who played quarterback at Rosa Fort High in Tunica, CCC, and Murray State. Cobbs is coaching defensive backs.