Members of the 2014 East Central Community College (Decatur) football squad and their respective high schools include (first row, from left) defensive back Trey Sloan (1), Oak Grove; wide receiver Gary Triplett (2), Central/Baton Rouge; defensive back JaDerrick Farrow (3), Bleckley County/ Cochran, GA; quarterback Andrew Dunn (4), Pascagoula; defensive backs Jaylen Lofton (5), Forest, and Jalen Kingston (6), Clinton; wide receiver Kabion Ento (7), Dollarway/Pine Bluff, AR; quarterback Ethan Hamilton (8), Noxapater; wide receiver Xavier Willis (9), Newton County; quarterback Austin Balthazor (10), Seminary; tight end Jordan Thomas (11), Sumrall; (second row, from left) quarterback Trey Willis (12), Forest Hill; defensive back Devontae Wilson (13), Warren Central; kickers Brennan O’Keefe (14), St. Martin/Ocean Springs, and Chandler Powell (15), Forest; running backs Marquis Hedge (21), Forest Hill, and Lamarcus Franks (22), Greene County/State Line; linebacker Grant Landrum (26), Sumrall; defensive back Johna Myers (27), Petal; running back SaVon Robinson (33), Raymond; linebacker Thomas McCool (38), Neshoba Central; and defensive back Raphael McClain (39), Starkville; (third row, from left) defensive backs Kenadria Watts (40), Newton, and Tevell Fair (41), Hattiesburg; linebacker Darrion Burnside (42), Neshoba Central; running back Donta Johnson (43), Thibodaux, LA; linebacker Henry Smith (44), Richton; defensive lineman Tyler Pace (45), Newton; linebackers Aubrey Bourn (46), Hattiesburg, Eric McPhearson (47), Jim Hill, and Quanterris Newby (48), New Hope; long snapper Trent Haden (50), Sumrall; and offensive lineman Micah Parten (55), Northwest Rankin; (fourth row, from left) offensive linemen Eddie Houston (60), Newton, and Brett Warren (61), Northwest Rankin; tight end/offensive lineman Lucas Morgan (64), Morton; offensive lineman Mauricio Hernandez (65), Oak Grove; defensive lineman Dexter Charles (71), Church Point, LA; offensive linemen Wade Grady (72), Ridgeland, Hunter Soileau (76), Forrest County AHS, Dustyn Breckley (77), Bay/Waveland, James McGee (78), Raymond, and Marcus Johnson (79), New Hope; and tight end Devaughn Brown (80), Thibodaux, LA; (fifth row, from left) tight end Connor Landrum (81), Neshoba Central; wide receivers Rashad Moore (82), D’Iberville, Chad Kincaid (86), Forest, Allen Fails (88), North Forrest, and Jimmy Cockrell (89), Columbus; defensive linemen Kendrick Maxwell (90), Houston, and Darryl Rogers (91) Laurel; linebacker Jerry Magee (92), Collins; and defensive lineman Keionda Smith (94), Forrest County AHS/Hattiesburg; (sixth row, from left) managers Troy Gregory and Kirk Griffin, both of Newton County, and Blaise Gibbs, Brandon; defensive linemen Jonathan Young (95), Lamar, and Lane Batiste (97), Carencro, LA, Jadarius Ceasar (98), Paul W. Bryant/Tuscaloosa, AL, and Zachary Graves (99), Magee; and managers Blake Miller, Ocean Springs and Tyler Armistead, Caledonia; and (back row, from left) T. J. Robbins, Rush Sports Medicine certified athletic trainer; coaches Tylan Martin, Charles Jones, Ken Karcher (head coach), Dennis Alexander, Ben Cooper, Mickey Mays and Scott Brock; and Derrick Jones, Rush Sports Medicine certified athletic trainer.
Preseason workouts are well under way for the East Central Community College football squad, which begins season action Thursday, August 28 at MS Delta Community College. Kickoff for the non-division battle is set for 7 p.m. on the Moorhead campus. The Warriors’ home opener is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, with MS Gulf Coast Community College. The MACJC South Division battle will be played on the recently installed synthetic turf at Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus.
Ken Karcher admits his first year as East Central Community College’s head football coach was a learning experience for him and his staff.
However, Karcher, whose first taste of Mississippi JUCO football resulted in a 1-8 season in 2013, stated the league was everything he expected.
“The league in general was everything that people told me it would be,” said the former NFL quarterback and NCAA Division I head coach. “It’s a very competitive league with great football players on every team, and it is fun being a part of this league. The first year was more of a learning curve for us…but we are very much excited about year two!”
Now with more than a year under his belt as Warrior head coach, Karcher has quickly attracted a lot of attention with the type program he plans to build on the Decatur campus. A successful recruiting season coupled with the fact that 70-plus players reported to camp in hopes of making the 55-man roster are signs of anticipated success. But Karcher cautions that success takes time to accomplish.
“We are trying to build a successful program here but it will not happen overnight…there are no quick fixes,” he stated. “Hopefully each year we will get better, we will attract better players and more people will become interested in the program.”
Regarding the 2014 recruiting class, Karcher said he is “very encouraged” with the results.
“It’s early but we are very encouraged because of the little things we did not see the previous year,” Karcher stated. “We now have kids who are eager to be here, who understand the basis of work ethic, who understand football acumen and who do not have to be taught everything from square one. This is a very competitive group of freshmen who enjoy what they are doing and have fun doing it. They are also a very athletic group.”
Karcher gave credit to his assistant coaches for attracting such a quality group. In addition, anticipated new athletic facilities have generated a lot of excitement.
“Our coaches did a great job recruiting…we also have new facilities being built, which is especially exciting for the young athletes…so we are very excited about how the future looks for our football program.”
Success for the Warriors last year came with the lone victory - a thrilling 36-31 homecoming victory over Mississippi Delta Community College, which came in the final seconds of the non-division battle Oct. 12 at Bailey Stadium.
“When we started practice in August, I was not confident that we would win any games,” Karcher admitted. “But I thought our kids did a good job of trying to buy in for the most part to what we were doing, and when the season started they competed for 60 minutes every game even though they were out-manned.”
Karcher recalled how the victory provided a tremendous boost to the players and coaches as well.
“It was a big win and came at the right time – homecoming! There were a lot of people there and it was especially great seeing the kids with smiles on their faces having gone through a tough year.”
Expected to provide the “nucleus” for success this season, are sophomores JaDerrick Farrow, a 6’ 200-pound safety from Bleckley High School in Cochran, Georgia; Lamarcus Franks of State Line, a 5-7, 150-pound running back from Greene County High School in Leakesville; Jimmy Cockrell, a 5-10, 170-pound wide receiver from Columbus; Darryl Rogers, a 6-3, 215-pound defensive lineman from Laurel; Tyler Pace, a 6-2, 280-pound tight end from Newton; and Trent Haden, a 5-9, 190-pound long snapper from Sumrall.
Karcher said Farrow is attracting attention from several university programs and is expected to be the defensive leader.
Franks, who won a starting position about mid-season, is expected to be the offensive leader. Franks had his “banner day” as a Warrior in the win over MS Delta, as the speedster rushed for 211 yards on 28 carries and scored twice. He finished the season with 610 yards on 126 carries and three TDs.
“We are looking for big things from them as they lead our football team,” commented Karcher.
Karcher said Rogers and Pace will also play key roles on defense, and Cockrell is also expected to be a leader on offense.
Karcher chuckled when mentioning long-snapper Haden as a key returnee, but added, “It’s a position no one thinks about until the snap goes over a punter’s head! But Trent does a good job, too!”
Overall, Coach Karcher said he expects the Warriors to be “more physical” on offense, defense and special teams; a team that will be “fundamentally sound” with minimum mistakes; and a team that will be “exciting” for fans to watch.
The Warriors start the 2014 campaign by traveling to MS Delta for a 7 p.m. matchup Thursday, August 28 in Moorhead.
The home opener with MS Gulf Coast Community College is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, and will be played on the new synthetic turf.
Coach Karcher said the welcomed addition to Bailey Stadium will benefit more than just the football program.
“What the new turf brings is vision and hope for the future not only for our football team but for all the College’s sports programs,” Karcher stated. “It’s also great for the local community. I’ve noticed local folks looking at the new surface and we’ve had several coaches from local high schools and other campus visitors come see the new turf as well. Obviously the new surface will drastically affect football recruiting because the 18-year-old athlete is attracted to the best facilities, and our facilities will be as nice if not the nicest in the state. And next year we hope to start construction on the Football Operations Center, which will really make things happen and provide a tremendous boost to our program.”
Whether the top returnees, a talent-laden recruiting class or new facilities will result in wins this season remains to be seen.
But what is even more important to Coach Karcher, is the individual player.
“What is sometimes lost in any athletic program and is most important are the people playing the sport and the lives that are involved. Often we as fans make the mistake by looking at a player and just seeing his jersey number or name on the back and forget he is someone’s kid and a young person who may be going through a tough time. We like to believe that our football program, like many other programs, is a tool to touch lives of kids. Sure, we hope to win championships every year but realistically that will not happen…we may just win one or two games a year or none at all. But as I tell my players, we win every day at East Central football.”
Serving on Coach Karcher’s staff are Scott Brock, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach; Mickey Mays, defensive line coach and special teams coordinator; Charles Jones, defensive backs coach and head strength coach; Dennis Alexander, offensive line coach; Ben Cooper, tight ends and running backs coach; and Tylan Martin, wide receivers coach. Karcher also serves as offensive coordinator.
By Reed DeSalvo / firstname.lastname@example.org
East Central Community College unveiled a portion of its new FieldTurf Thursday set to be on full display for the upcoming 2014 campaign in the Warrior’s Bailey Stadium Thursday.
Three weeks ago, ground was struck to get the process under way as the project will reach its completion in the coming weeks.
"The FieldTurf is called EnviroPro," said EnviroTurf Chief Executive James Bateman, whose company also installed Meridian High School's field turf. "We've installed a water drainage system that can drain about 100 inches in a 24-hour period. We're rolling out the turf cut (Thursday), and next week, we'll be putting in logos, hash marks and numbers, and we should be playing it August 3."
The new turf serves as a strong indication that the ECCC administration is fully committed to winning at the highest level in a strong showing of support for its student athletes, East Central CC president Billy Stewart said.
“One of the things that we wanted to do was to ensure that we had a strategic plan for the future,” Stewart said. “That plan has become our road map for the future. When you see our field, that represents a step that we are taking in the success of our student-athletes."
Athletic facilities in today’s sports serve as an instrumental part of developing talent, and also bringing new talent in.
“I think the biggest asset that the field will provide is that it will help us in recruiting,” East Central football coach Ken Karcher said. “We’re in the early stages of building a foundation for a program that has not won in a long time. This is going to help young men want to come here. It is just one piece of the equation, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to have something like this.”
Yet the field will not only serve the football team but also provide a stage for other student-oriented performances in benefiting all of Warrior Nation.
“This field will be the stage for performances for our band,” Stewart said. “Cheerleaders will enjoy this field, and Centralettes will enjoy this field. Our men’s and women’s soccer team will enjoy this field. This field represents where we are headed towards as an institution, and that is excellence.”
The field’s overhaul is one of the more significant undertakings the athletics program has taken on in recent memory.
“Other than the construction of the new gymnasium, this is the biggest thing to happen to East Central sports,” Dean of Athletics and Personnel Services Chris Harris said.
Harris would know, as he grew up in the Decatur area and was an all-state defensive back in 1975 for the Warriors.
“I’ve never seen anything this big happen for the athletic program since I’ve been here,” Harris added.
In addition, the FieldTurf is part of a bigger plan for an eventual football operation center at the north end of the stadium in the coming years.
“Our timetable on that is immediate,” Harris said. “As soon as we complete this project on the field, then we will be right back on top of the operations building project.”
After suffering through a number of a down seasons, including a 1-8 record last year, the potential of the new football operations center is part of the foundation in leading to excellence in the years to come.
“The facilities win,” Karcher said. “Young people want to be a part of good facilities, so having a facility that can offer meetings rooms, quality training areas, weight rooms, these are things that are needed to be successful.”
The foundation that the Warriors set forth on Thursday is the hopeful beginnings of a rejuvenated program.
“This field demonstrates our commitment to excellence,” Stewart said. “It speaks to the growth and development of our program, and I hope this field makes people realize that we are really serious about our commitment level and that they would want to be a part of it.”
These area football players are shown receiving instruction from East Central Community College assistant football coach Mickey Mays during a Warrior Football Camp held earlier this summer on the Decatur campus. Participants received instruction on fundamentals and techniques in a fun atmosphere, said second-year ECCC head football coach Ken Karcher. “Our camps are designed to teach skills that make better football players and build young men,” said Coach Karcher. Mays serves as special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. Other Warrior assistants include Charles Jones, safeties and assistant strength coach; Eric Gray, corners and head strength coach; Dennis Alexander, offensive line coach; and recent staff addition Ben Cooper, tight ends coach.
After serving the past year as a graduate assistant football coach at East Central Community College in Decatur, Charles Jones was recently named a full-time assistant on Coach Ken Karcher’s staff.
Jones, who coaches safeties, officially begins the 10-month position on August 1, 2014.
Karcher, who begins his second year as Warrior head mentor, said Coach Jones “believes in the mission of the football program, is a good communicator and teacher, has a heart for young men and is a hard worker.”
Jones, a native of Waynesboro, Georgia, and a product of Burke County High School, is a 2005 graduate of the University of Alabama, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and played in the defensive backfield for the Crimson Tide football team from 1999-2003. He was a three-year starter at safety and was named the All-Southeastern Conference Team as a defensive back in 2003. He also received the Bobby Jones Most Improved Defensive Back Award in 2001. Jones served as team co-captain his senior season in 2002-2003.
After graduating from the University of Alabama, Jones was signed as an undrafted free agent by the NFL’s New York Giants. Following a brief period with the Giants, he played for the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League for two seasons.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State University in Starkville, where he coached defensive backs from July to December in 2008.
Prior to joining the ECCC staff as a part-time assistant, Jones held coaching positions at three high schools in Alabama – Central High School, Bessemer City High School and Jackson-Olin High School, serving as defensive coordinator at two of the schools.
JACKSON - The Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and JUCO Weekly (jucoweekly.org) have partnered with SuperTalk Mississippi (Telesouth Communications, Inc.) in launching a statewide weekly community and junior college radio scoreboard show.
“The Mississippi JUCO Football Scoreboard Show” will air each Thursday night from 10 to 11 p.m., for nine weeks, beginning August 28 and ending October 23, 2014.
“To team with SuperTalk Mississippi provides a tremendous opportunity, as it gives the MACJC access to an established statewide radio audience,” said Mike Frazer, JUCO Weekly founder. “SuperTalk Mississippi has built an impeccable reputation with the public and the corporate community over its many years of service, and we are very excited about this partnership.”
Frazer said the Mississippi JUCO Football Scoreboard Show will feature game scores, game recaps from media members, current MACJC standings, current MACJC player statistics and rankings, team rankings and player of the week selections. The scoreboard show will also highlight student-athletes who are receiving interest from senior college and universities. In addition, the show will announce the current national top 20 poll released weekly by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Jim Southward, who serves as MACJC Director of Athletics, said he is “excited” to see the MACJC make the move to statewide radio and SuperTalk Mississippi.
“We hope that people across the state of Mississippi will tune in for the scoreboard shows,” said Southward.” Mississippi community and junior college football has an incredible history. Each of our community and junior colleges offers tremendous opportunity to our students in athletics, academics, technical and vocational programs.”
SuperTalk Mississippi will air the scoreboard show on each of its 11 radio stations across the State of Mississippi.
“The Mississippi Community and Junior College system has had such a monumental impact on the state athletically and academically for generations,” said SuperTalk Mississippi Program Director David Day. “The success that the MACJC has in athletics, particularly in football, is flat out impressive and we want to be a bell horn for the league.”
Day added, “Airing a Mississippi JUCO football scoreboard show that showcases the league’s talent and promotes the MACJC’s overall impact to the state is in harmony of what we’re about here at SuperTalk Mississippi.”
The Mississippi JUCO Football Scoreboard Shown will be hosted by Mike Frazer with a co-host to be named at a later date.
In addition to listening the program on local SuperTalk Mississippi radio stations, the scoreboard show will also be streamed “live” online at www.supertalk.fm and also at www.jucoweekly.org.
The scoreboard show will air on SuperTalk radio stations in the following areas of the state: Corinth (94.3), Delta (96.9), Golden Triangle (100.9), MS Gulf Coast (103.1), Hattiesburg/Jackson (97.3), Laurel (99.3), Meridian (103.3), North MS (105.5), Southwest MS (102.1) and Tupelo (102.9).
The JUCO Weekly website, which turned four years old earlier this year, is designed to provide in-depth coverage of Mississippi community and junior college athletics.
To view live updated game scores, game stats, headline news, videos, game action shots, team schedules, team rosters, and more MACJC-sanctioned athletics, visit www.jucoweekly.org- the one source for Mississippi community and junior college athletics.
Ben Cooper of Abilene, Texas, was recently selected a graduate assistant football coach at East Central Community College in Decatur, announced Warrior head football coach Ken Karcher.
Cooper will serve as tight ends coach.
Prior to joining the ECCC staff, Cooper served the past two years as an assistant coach for the Abilene Bombers of the Arena Football League, and the past four years as a graduate assistant at Hardin-Simmons University, also located in Abilene.
His duties with the Abilene Bombers included coaching offensive linemen, tight ends and fullbacks. He also assisted with special teams.
Cooper helped lead the Bombers to the 2013 playoffs. His offensive line was voted “Best Line in the League” following the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Cooper was also selected to coach in the 2013 Arena Football All-Star Game.
He began his coaching career in 2010 at Hardin-Simmons, where he coached linebackers, quarterbacks and tight ends. He also served as a recruiter and was responsible for all out-of-state recruiting.
Cooper is a 2004 graduate of Austin (Texas) Hyde Park Baptist School, where he was a football standout at quarterback. He also excelled in basketball and track.
He continued his football career at Texas Lutheran University in Sequin, Texas, where he was a two-year letterman at tight end. He was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Cooper received a bachelor’s degree in theological studies at Texas Lutheran in 2009, and earned a master’s of divinity in family ministry at Hardin-Simmons in 2014.
He is the son of Walter and Juanita Cooper of Austin. He has a brother, Alexis Cooper.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a new synthetic turf field is scheduled Friday, June 13, 2014, at East Central Community College’s Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus. The ceremony was scheduled following approval of the award of the bid by the ECCC Board of Trustees earlier this week.
Activities begin at 2 p.m. on Warrior Field for the new turf surface, which will not only be used for football games but will also host soccer matches and other special events.
CR Construction, Inc., of Flowood was the successful bidder for the eight-week project, estimated to cost approximately $727,000. The field is designed by Eley Guild Hardy Architects of Biloxi.
Funding for the installation of the turf field is provided in part from net proceeds of the recently held “Laying the Foundation: An Evening with Coach Tony Dungy.” The fundraising event was hosted March 28, 2014, at the Neshoba County Coliseum in Philadelphia and featured the current analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America, award-winning author and Super Bowl-winning coach who is also involved in a variety of charitable organizations.
“Thanks to the financial support from program sponsors - the Rush Sports Medicine Team, Anderson Regional Medical Center, Valley, and the more than 400 individuals who purchased tickets for the Dungy event, and the East Central Board of Trustees, we are able to begin the first phase of much-needed improvements to our football facility,” said ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart. “We are also in the process of providing opportunities for businesses and individuals to help fund construction of the Football Operations Center, which will be constructed on the north end of the football field. We are very pleased with the response thus far and look forward to completing fundraising for the facility in the very near future.”
Dr. Stewart will provide opening remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Also participating in the brief program will be Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Jerry Smith of Philadelphia; Athletic Director Chris Harris; Head Football Coach Ken Karcher; and Taylor Guild, representing the architectural firm.”
The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
Football camps for young athletes are scheduled during June 2014 at East Central Community College in Decatur, announced Ken Karcher, Warrior head coach.
Coach Karcher said each camp “will stress the fundamentals and techniques with our primary objective focusing on quality instruction for each and every player in a fun atmosphere. “We hope to teach skills that make better football players and build young men.”
The schedule for the overnight camps is as follows:
JUNIOR WARRIOR BIG MAN CAMP
The Junior Warrior Big Man Camp is a two-day, semi-contact event for players entering grades sixth through eighth during the fall of 2014. All campers will be grouped by age. Participants will be instructed in both offensive and defensive line play, including competitive drills. There will be two practices on Monday and three practices on Tuesday. Cost is $125 per camper or $100 for groups of five or more. Fee includes four meals per camper.
JUNIOR WARRIOR SKILL CAMP
The Junior Warrior Skill camp is a two-day, non-contact event for players entering grades sixth through eighth during the fall of 2014. All campers will be grouped by age. Participants will be instructed in both an offensive and defensive position of their choice. There will be two practices on Monday and three practices on Tuesday. Cost is $125 per camper. Fee includes four meals per camper.
SENIOR WARRIOR BIG MAN CAMP
The Senior Warrior Big Man camp is a three-day, semi-contact event for players entering grades ninth through 12th during the fall of 2014. All campers will be grouped by age. Participants will be instructed in both offensive and defensive line play, including competitive drills. There will be two practices on Wednesday, three on practices on Thursday and two practices on Friday. Cost is $175 per camper or $150 for groups of five or more campers. Fee includes five meals per camper.
SENIOR WARRIOR SKILL CAMP
The Senior Warrior Skill camp is a three-day, non-contact event for players entering grades ninth through 12th during the fall of 2014. All campers will be grouped by age. Participants will be instructed in both an offensive and defensive position of their choice. There will be two practices on Wednesday, three practices on Thursday and two practices on Friday. Cost is $175 per camper. Fee includes five meals per camper.
ITEMS CAMPERS SHOULD PROVIDE
Coach Karcher said all campers should bring a football helmet, mouth piece, football cleats, shorts, T-shirts and water bottle for practices.
Participants will also need casual clothes for free time, washcloths, towels, twin sheets or a sleeping bag, blankets, pillows and all toiletry items.
A camp store will be available for campers during evening hours.
Assisting Coach Karcher are Warrior assistant football coaches Scott Brock, defensive coordinator; Mickey Mays, special teams coordinator and defensive line coach; Charles Jones, safeties and assistant strength coach; Eric Gray, corners and head strength coach; and Dennis Alexander, offensive line coach.
For more information, contact camp director Charles Jones, at 601-635-6371 or email email@example.com.
Participants may also register online at www.eccc.edu.