2013 Football Season Preview
Coahoma Community College’s football team won’t get to wade into the waters slowly this season as the Tigers will jump head first into the season taking on top-ranked Gulf Coast Community College in its season-opener Thursday, Aug. 29.
“We will be challenged early this season,” said head coach Freeman Horton who is trying to get his Tigers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. “In four of our first five games, we are facing preseason Top 25 teams.”
Horton faces an even tougher challenge than most, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Tigers still don’t have a concrete roster. Most of the teams that he faces have their athletes on campus during the summer period to train and prepare for the upcoming season. With CCC not having a summer session, the head coach has a hurried and shortened period to not only put his team together, but get them prepared for a season-opener – all in less than a month.
“It puts us at a tremendous disadvantage, but we have coaches that are working hard an our players are working hard and we’re trying to catch up the best that we can,” Horton said. “We are feeling good about where we are. It’s and obstacle that we are going to have to overcome. There’s nothing that we can do about it, we just have to play the hand that we are dealt.”
The Tigers season doesn’t get any easier after the opener. With games against preseason-ranked Hinds Community College (15) in Week 2, Northwest (21) in Week 3, and East Mississippi (8) in Week 5, the learning curve for Coahoma is going to be steep. However, Horton says he doesn’t look at this schedule as a hindrance, but an opportunity for his team to showcase its talent.
“As a team, we talk about it, and hopefully the player are going to adopt the same mentality that our coaching staff has,” said Horton. “As an athlete, you should want to be challenged, and the best challenge is playing the best competition that’s out there, and to see how you rank against the best. The only way to find that out is to play them, and I believe that it’s an opportunity to showcase what we can do.”
The good news for the Tigers is that their core group of offensive lineman will be returning including Sylvester Townes (6-6, 290lb), Terrance Williams (6-3, 330lbs) and Dannick Artis (6-3, 360lbs) who missed most of last season due to injury.
That big front line will be tasked with protecting the Tiger quarterback tandem of Quantavious Peterson and Roderick McKee who split time under center last season and will be returning for their sophomore seasons. Freshman Anthony Mitchell could also see time under season as the season progresses.
The Tigers took a big hit with the loss one of the state’s top-ranked runners Daveonn Porter and will be looking for production by committee at the running back position with three or four backs looking to tote the rock for the Tigers.
“Our quarterbacks and our offensive lineman are to me the most important positions on the football field,” Horton said. “They can make a good running back look great and for the last four or five years we’ve been lucky to have one of the top backs in the state on our team. That’s not the case this year. We have four or five backs that will all likely get some carries and we’re going to count on the experience of our quarterbacks and lineman to be leaders on this team.”
Defensively, CCC has a wealth of experience returning to the field in 2013. Sophomore lineman Keeland McElrath (6-5, 295lbs) Dezmond Bedford (6-3, 292lbs) and Isiah Anderson (6-2, 242lbs) will anchor the defense up front.
“We’re returning three defensive lineman, one linebacker and four guys out of the secondary from last season,” Horton said. “Where we are going to struggle is depth at the linebacker position, and really depth on both sides of the ball. Our first team is solid, but when you get to our second and third players on the depth chart we drop off a little bit. Other teams that we are facing like Gulf Coast (Community College) they have that kind of depth all the way down the roster.”
The Tigers football team finished last season with just one win, but 16 of Coahoma Community College’s athletes went on to continue their football careers at 4-year colleges and universities.
The 16 players include Tyshunn Alston (West Alabama), Monte Bass, Timothy Buckley, Isiah Colbert and Jibri Cole (Tuskegee University), Cezar Coleman-Lane, LaKendrick Conley and Daveonn Porter (Texas Southern), Jamal Cooper (Belhaven College), Steven Horton (West Alabama), Ryan Self and DeKoven Ware (Delta State), Damien Samuel and Hason Smith (Georgia), Shannon Tyler (Lane), Elias Wells and Ned Gallagher (Jackson State), Paul Medders and Justin Thomas (Mississippi Valley State University).
This is one of the things that Horton and his coaching staff are most proud of and want the good, young, local talent in Clarksdale to be aware of – the fact that CCC athletes move on to four-year programs and compete at the next level.
“We graduate our athletes, they don’t just come and play football, they move on to play at four-year schools and universities and we’re very proud of that,” Horton said. “It one of our biggest selling points when we are talking to parents. If you want your child to get and education and move on, then this is the place for them to be.”
Kick off for the Thursday, Aug. 29 opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. at A.L. May Stadium in Perkinston.