Coahoma Challenged by ‘Toughest Schedule in JUCO Football’
CLARKSDALE – Coahoma has a killer schedule - the toughest in Mississippi JUCO football, believes Coach Freeman Horton.
And Mississippi JUCO football has been labeled “The toughest league in America.”
“We are challenged early in the season,” says the competitive, veteran coach who took the Tigers to the playoffs in 2009 after winning four consecutive uphill battles.
“In three out of five games, we are facing pre-season Top 25 teams,” says Horton naming Gulf Coast, Number one; Itawamba, No. 19; Northwest, No. 21; and East Mississippi, No. 6.
Reviewing the 2012 season, Horton praises his players for their tenacious play and upset victory (34-24) over Pearl River that helped deaden the sting of several close and heart-breaking losses.
“Against Hinds, we were down only 0-7 at halftime but ran out of gas because of conditioning problems,” he says.
He explained how players usually get in shape for the grueling season during summer school, and CCC’s lack of a summer session for athletes contributed to the opening loss to Gulf Coast .
“We lost to Northeast in the last 20 seconds (21-17) and to Itawamba after blowing a two-touchdown lead (31-28).
With players arriving on campus Aug. 4 there is limited time for conditioning and practice before the first game vs. Gulf Coast August 29.
Looking ahead and assessing his assets, Coach Horton says three top offensive linemen are returning including, “one of the best in the state: Sylvester Townes at 6’6/290’;” Terrance Williams from West Bolivar at 6’3/330; and Dannick Artis 6’3/360 from Aggie who was injured most of last year.
“We’re also expecting great things from Jacorey Lee, who is transferring from Jones County Junior College, he continued
Both 2012 quarterbacks: Quantavious (long arm) Peterson and Roderick McKee will be back sharing the position along with Anthony Mitchell Jr., a freshman from Moss Point, says Horton.
“Running back Daveonn Porter, who was ranked first or second in the state, will be hard to replace,” says Horton who will be evaluating freshmen speedsters.
If the Tigers are short on offensive experience, their defensive backs and defensive linemen are strong.
Defensive coordinator William Kirksey will be leaning on the experience of sophomores Keeland McElrath, 6’5/295, of Ripley, Tenn; Dezmond Bedford, 6’3/292 of Mound Bayou; Isiah Anderson, 6’2/242, of Port Gibson; linebackers Rykeem Cook, 6’1/205, of Madison Palmer; Terrence Thigpen, 6’1/240, of Ruleville; defensive backs Jamal Ezekiel, Jerry Lyons, and Arsenio Correll, all of Greenville O’Bannon and James Harmon of Lexington.
Players to watch, according to Horton, include wide receivers Tiberias Lampkin of West Helena and James Hill of New Hope; defensive back Calvin Summers of Olive Branch; running back Dominick Smith of Fairly High School, Memphis; linebacker Jerome Glass of Memphis; and defensive lineman Tamaris Harris of Leland
Horton continues to lament the dissolution of recruiting districts when players in each district were protected from out-of-district raiding.
Now, all colleges can recruit players anywhere in the state, and large colleges in the South (Hinds, Jones, Co-Lin and Gulf Coast) have signed players from Clarksdale, Charleston, West Bolivar, and other north Mississippi hometowns.
Adding additional insult to CCC was outlawing Tiger recruiting in Memphis schools – a rich source of talent- especially offensive linemen.
However, Horton is proud of his 2012 players who have transferred or graduated and are playing this year at 4-year colleges and universities.
The 16 players include Tyshunn Alston (West Alabama), Monte Bass, Timothy Buckley, Isiah
Colbert, Jibri Cole (Tuskegee University), Cezar Coleman-Lane, LaKendrick Conley (Texas Southern), Jamal Cooper (Belhaven College), Steven Horton (West Alabama), Daveonn Porter (Texas Southern), Ryan Self (Delta State), Damien Samuel, Hason Smith (Georgia), Shannon Tyler (Lane), DeKoven Ware (Delta State), Elias Wells (Jackson State), Ned Gallagher (Jackson State), Paul Medders, and Justin Thomas (Mississippi Valley State University).
Dr. Valmadge Towner became Coahoma’s fifth president July l. Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Freeman Horton has been coaching at CCC since 2001. Assistant CCC coaches include Offensive Coordinator Kendrick Travis; Defensive Coordinator William Kirksey; Kenneth Strong who coaches linebackers, Sean Norris, wide receivers and quarterbacks; Billy Fields, running backs. Carol Brooks is Athletic Secretary.
Although Coahoma opens on the road at Gulf Coast, the next three Thursday night games are at home: Hinds on Sept. 5; Northwest, Sept. 12; and Pearl River, Sept. 19. Thursday night home games begin at 6:30 p.m.
Homecoming is 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 vs. Itawamba.