The Meridian Star
In the tales of tough schedules, East Central Community College's rolls on as the Warriors prepare to host No. 3 Jones County Community College tonight in Decatur.
Last week, against then-No. 20 Hinds Community College, ECCC found the end zone twice in one game for the first time this season, but lost 48-14.
Head coach Ken Karcher and his team is still only looking forward and not focusing on outside factors, especially rankings— but, the Warriors know what they have coming in.
“I wish we were playing a team that wasn't so good,” Karcher said. “Like I told our kids, it's another opportunity for an upset, and we have to play really well to have a chance … we're just going to try an continue to improve ourselves.”
Here are five things to watch for in tonight's game.
1) You're going down: ECCC's linebacker Fredrick Rich is ranked seventh in the NJCAA for solo tackles made at 45. Karcher said he expects nothing less with the way linebacker coach Todd Bates has built the line.
“[Rich]'s done a nice job being where he needs to be most of time, he's very athletic,” Karcher said. “With the way the defense is set up, a linebacker should have a lot of tackles. … he needs to continue to improve because we need him to play well for us to have a chance on defense.”
2) Try and catch 'em: Jones County isn't just nationally ranked as a team, but individually as well. Top 5 skill players will mean Karcher's defensive backs will have to be on point.
Jamicheal Willis leads the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 147.0. In actual yardage, his 735 ranks second to Mesa Community College (N.M.)'s Cody Sual's 757. Teammate Quartez Cook is fifth in receiving yards per game, at 91.4.
Only problem is at that position, the Warriors aren't very deep.
“We're a little bit banged up there (at DB), so it's going to be a challenge to really good a job,” Karcher said. “We're really going to have to play well … Jones has very good skill position, they like to throw the ball deep.”
3) Staying true to word: Karcher came into the ECCC program and made one thing clear: it wasn't going to stand for his players just getting by and there would be discipline.
This week, Karcher benched players for academic reasons and tardiness to team events, despite being 0-5 with another ranked team coming in.
“That's one of the issues of a young program, you're trying to set the foundation and I'm not going to bend on those things,” he said. “If guys aren't going to be on time or take care of their academics, then they are not going to play football.”
4) Battle of the QBs: A week after all three quarterbacks took time under center, Donnie Farmer will get the start this week. Jacori Taylor will service as his only backup as Anthony Tripplet will be on the bench for violating team rules.
5) On the rise: Karcher said LaMarcus Franks has been his most consistent player this season, but lately the first-year coach has been keeping an eye on safety/linebacker JaDerrick Farrow.
Farrow is second on the Warriors in total tackles made with 31
“He has potential to play past us I think,” Karcher said. “He's intelligent. He's where he needs to be. He's a good tackler. He's got good ball skills and that's what you want in a safety.”