Freshman defensive back Jaylon Lofton (5) makes one of his two interceptions during East Central Community College’s season opener at Mississippi Delta Community College Thursday night. Lofton is a product of Forest High School. The Trojans held on for a 21-12 season-opening victory.
Brennan O’Keefe (14) had a successful start to his East Central Community College career as the freshman kicker from St. Martin High School connected on field goals of 34 and 38 yards in the Warriors’ season opener at Mississippi Delta Community College Thursday night. The Trojans held on for a 21-12 decision in the non-division matchup.
Two fourth-quarter touchdowns – including one score on a long punt return - provided the winning margin for the home standing Mississippi Delta Community College Trojans who held on for a 21-12 decision over East Central Community College at Jim Randall Field Thursday, August 28. The Warriors trailed throughout the non-division battle but closed the gap to 7-6 in second-half action following freshman Brennan O’Keefe’s second field goal of the night.
O’Keefe, a product of St. Martin High School, put EC on the scoreboard with his 34-yard field goal midway in the second quarter, and drilled a 38-yarder with 6:32 remaining in the third stanza.
East Central scored its lone touchdown when sophomore quarterback Ethan Hamilton connected with wide receiver Xavier Willis on a 46-yard TD pass late in the game’s final minutes.
Hamilton, a product of Noxapater High School, finished the night by completing 14 of 34 passes for 233 yards and the one score.
Willis had three grabs but netted 46 total yards. He is a product of Newton County High School.
Freshman Rashad Moore was the top receiver with six catches for 88 yards. Moore is a product of D’Iberville High School.
EC’s running game was led by sophomore Lamarcus Franks, who compiled 53 yards on 12 carries. Franks is a product of Greene County High School.
Sophomore running back Marquis Hedge had nine rushes for 24 yards. Hedge is from Forest Hill High School.
Delta jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Roshard Burney’s three-yard burst with 1:17 left in the first quarter. Zacarion Goodman booted the first of his three PATs. Burney is a sophomore running back from West Palm Beach, Florida. Goodman is from Greenville.
The Trojans added two fourth-quarter scores, the first on another three-yard run by Burney, followed by Cedric Poole’s 83-yard punt return with 6:09 remaining, which extended the Delta advantage to 21-6.
EC’s defense was led by freshman defensive back Jaylon Lofton, who had two interceptions, one of which was made in the end zone and stopped a possible Trojan score. Lofton is a product of Forest High School.
Next up for EC is another road trip to the Mississippi Delta, where the Warriors will challenge Coahoma Community College Thursday, Sept. 4. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on the Clarksdale campus.
The Tigers dropped a 36-6 decision to Pearl River Community College in their season opener Thursday in Poplarville.
East Central Community College President Dr. Billy Stewart performs ribbon-cutting duties to officially unveil the recently installed synthetic turf on Warrior field during the annual “Meet the Warriors” Pep Rally/Player Introductions held Monday, August 25, 2014, at Bailey Stadium. Dr. Stewart provided comments to a packed stadium prior to the ceremony and noted the turf installation would not have been possible without the support from former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose appearance earlier this year on campus and at the Neshoba County Coliseum in Philadelphia netted approximately $160,000 for the $727,000 project. Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (from left) ECCC Board of Trustees members Royce Shaw (secretary) of Forest, Jerry Smith (vice chairman) of Philadelphia, Dr. Jimmy Hollingsworth (chairman) of Lake and Rodney Bounds of Newton; ECCC staff members Dr. Stacey Hollingsworth, executive director for Foundation and Alumni Relations; Artie Foreman, Supt. of the Physical Plant; Chris Harris, Dean of Personnel Services and Athletics; Dr. Stewart; Ken Karcher, head football coach; James Bateman, EnviroTurf of Flowood; and ECCC Board of Trustees members Pat Cleveland of Conehatta, William E. Kitchings of Carthage, David Byars of Philadelphia and J.O. Amis (Newton County Supt. of Education) of Decatur. Following ribbon-cutting activities, the cheerleading squad and Centralettes dance line performed and received special recognition followed by introductions of the Lady Warrior and Warrior soccer teams, and the Warrior football squad. The Wall O’ Sound Band also performed. The Warriors’ home opener on the new turf is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 11, when division foe Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College comes to campus. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
Ken Karcher (kneeling center) begins his second year as head football coach at East Central Community College in Decatur. Karcher also serves as offensive coordinator. Assistant coaches and their respective areas of responsibility include (kneeling from left) Scott Brock, defensive coordinator/linebackers; and Mickey Mays, defensive line/special teams; and (standing from left) Tylan Martin, wide receivers; Ben Cooper, tight ends and running backs; Dennis Alexander, offensive line; and Charles Jones, defensive backs and head strength coach.
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) of Forest and Jalen Kingston (6) of 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) of St. Martin/Ocean Springs, and Chandler Powell (15) of Forest; running backs Marquis Hedge (21) of Forest Hill and Lamarcus Franks (22) of 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) of Newton and Tevell Fair (41) of 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) of Hattiesburg, Eric McPhearson (47) of Jim Hill and Quanterris Newby (48) of 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) of Newton and Brett Warren (61) of 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) of Ridgeland, Hunter Soileau (76) of Forrest County AHS, Dustyn Breckley (77) of Bay/Waveland, James McGee (78) of Raymond and Marcus Johnson (79) of New Hope; and tight end Devaughn Brown (80), Thibodaux, LA; (fifth row, from left) tight end Connor Landrum (81), Neshoba Central; wide receiver Rashad Moore (82), D’Iberville; running back Ben Marchbanks (83), Caledonia; free safety Quinshay Heard (84), Hamilton; wide receivers Chad Kincaid (85) of Forest, Allen Fails (88) of North Forrest and Jimmy Cockrell (89) of Columbus; defensive linemen Kendrick Maxwell (90) of Houston and Darryl Rogers (91) of 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) of Lamar, Lane Batiste (97) of Carencro, LA, Jadarius Ceasar (98) of Paul W. Bryant/Tuscaloosa, AL, and Zachary Graves (99) of Magee; and managers Blake Miller of Ocean Springs and Tyler Armistad of 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 / email@example.com
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.