The No. 15 ranked East Central Warriors will face the Kilgore College Rangers, champions of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference (SWJCFC). The game will be played in the 10,000-seat Bulldawg Stadium, home of the Copperas Cove High School football team. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.
The invitation was extended to ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart by HOT Bowl Director Vance McNally at Noon today, the earliest a bowl bid could be extended according to National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) bowl guidelines. Stewart and Head Football Coach Ken Karcher informed the team at a 2:30 p.m. meeting.
Only 14 community college football teams in the nation were invited to bowl games this year.
“We proudly accept the invitation to participate in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl on December 5,” said Stewart upon receiving the bowl invitation. “This is a tremendous reward for our football team, and a wonderful opportunity for our college and our fans.
“The HOT Bowl is nationally recognized not only for its hospitality, class organization, and high level of play on the field, but also as a top philanthropic bowl game that raises funds to help educate youth about the dangers of the abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol. We look forward to representing East Central Community College, the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, and the state of Mississippi with excellence and class both on and off the field.”
East Central Community College has only participated in three bowl games since it began playing football in 1928, the most recent a 7-6 win over Middle Georgia College in the 1996 Huddle House Golden Isles Classic in Brunswick, Ga.
East Central finished the 2015 season with a 7-3 record, the best won-loss record since 1999. The Warriors advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 MACJC state playoffs, before losing to eventual state champion Northwest Mississippi Community College 27-20 on Oct. 31 in Senatobia. It was the Warriors’ first appearance in the state playoffs since 2001.
Kilgore College out of Kilgore, Texas, is 7-4 overall after defeating Navarro College 42-28 in the SWJCFC championship game Nov. 7. Kilgore, which has participated in three previous HOT Bowls, currently is ranked No. 20 in the latest NJCAA national football poll and is a two-time national champion.
Karcher, in his third season as the East Central head coach, said that the Warriors are excited about the bowl trip, and looking to bring a championship back to Decatur.
“There are only seven community college bowl games in the nation, and for East Central Community College to be in one of them is a testament to the tremendous strides we have made as a football program the past three years,” noted Karcher. “It’s also a testament to the dedication and hard work of the young men on our team and our coaches. It will be a tremendous challenge against a Kilgore team that won its conference in a powerful football league, and while I want our players to enjoy this reward, we are going to Texas with every intention of bringing home the bowl championship.”
The East Central Wall O’ Sound Marching Band and the Warrior Cheerleaders will also be making the trip to Copperas Cove.
East Central is offering bowl packages that will include round-trip bus transportation from Decatur to Copperas Cove, one night’s hotel accommodation, a ticket to the game, and transportation from the hotel to the game.
For information on the bowl packages, visit www.eccc.edu/store. There also will be online options to purchase individual bowl game tickets and/or tickets to the bowl banquet on Friday evening, Dec. 4, for those who will provide their own accommodations and transportation to Copperas Cove. The deadline for reservations is Noon on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
For additional information on the packages, call 601-635-6340. East Central Community College will be observing the Thanksgiving Holidays during the week of Nov. 23 to Nov. 29. During that time, call 601-616-1088.
The C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl was founded in 2001 by Dr. Jack Welch and a group of local businessmen looking for a way to help others while stimulating the local economy. Welch is athletic director and head football coach of the Copperas Cove Independent School District.
From 2001 to 2013, the bowl featured two top community/junior college NJCAA teams each year, with one team coming from the NJCAA Texas region. A second bowl was added in 2014 pitting two top four-year schools from NCAA Division II, with one of these teams coming from the Lonestar Conference. The NCAA Division II bowl game will played at 6 p.m. between Eastern New Mexico and Arkansas Tech.
The Heart of Texas Bowl is sponsored by C.H.A.M.P.S., Communities Helping Americans Mature Progress and Succeed, a school-based program aimed at educating students about the dangers of the abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol.
It will mark the fourth time that an MACJC football team has played in the HOT Bowl.
For additional information on the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl, visit www.heartoftexasbowl.com.