It's Unanimous In the Southwest (SWJCFC)

ATHENS, Texas -- It's unanimous. Southwest Junior College Football Conference coaches selected the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals to win the 2006 league title. The announcement occurred Thursday morning here on the TVCC campus at the annual SWJCFC Media Day.

Each of the league's seven coaches presented outlooks for what promises to be another exciting, highly competitive season.

Coach Mark Sartain's Cardinals, ranked second nationally in the National Junior College Athletic Association's preseason poll, are coming off a 9-3 season in which they defeated five Top 12-ranked opponents. The Cardinals won their 18th league title and first regional championship with a 49-41 win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, and capped a Top 10 finish by winning the Pilgrim's Pride Bowl Classic at Mount Pleasant, Tx., over Northeast Mississippi, 24-14.

TVCC is one of five SWJCFC teams ranked among the NJCAA's preseason Top 23.  Conference coaches gave the Cardinals six first-place ballots (60 points) in their preseason poll, based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5 scoring system.

Second-year coach Jamie Critchlow's Tyler Apaches claimed 53 points and finished second in the preseason poll. The Apaches, which last year shared fifth with Navarro at 4-5, received no preseason votes lower than third place.

Opinions varied widely for third place as four teams -- Blinn, Kilgore, Navarro and NEO -- find themselves in a mass jumble separated by three points.

Perhaps the greatest uncertainty rested among the Buccaneers, Bulldogs and Golden Norsemen since each of those teams received votes to finish four different places.

Coach Brad Franchione's Blinn Buccaneers (7-3 in 2005) used the strength of two second-place ballots and emerged with 45 points to claim third in the preseason poll.

Coach Jim Rieves' Kilgore Rangers, coming off a miserable 2-8 season with five losses by a combined 15 points, edged into fourth place with 43 points. Immediately behind the Rangers with 42 points apiece were coach Chuck Lawrence's Navarro Bulldogs and second-year coach Rob Green's Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Golden Norsemen.

Navarro last year defeated two of the NJCAA's Final Top 6 teams (Georgia Military and NEO), and finished 4-5.

"No one knows," Green said. "We're just guessing. We don't know. There are so many other variables that will come into play during the course of the season. The injuries. The big plays. Weather. Homefield advantages. I know that this conference is always unbelievably competitive week in and week out, and I'm glad we're a part of it."

Indeed, no one may know, but they have a keen sense in this balanced, tough 7-team conference.

To their credit last August, coaches accurately forecast the league's closest race in history as 13 points separated the top six teams. However, as last year's four-way first-place tie evolved in November, only two of their playoff projections reached the postseason.

2006 SWJCFC COACHES POLL

No., Team………………………..Pts

1. Trinity Valley…………………..60

2. Tyler……………………………53

3. Blinn……………………………45

4. Kilgore………………………….43

5. Navarro…………………………42

5. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M…..42

7. Cisco……………………………30

 


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