Jones County Bobcats Preview

Excitement is brewing on the Jones Junior College campus amidst a huge wave of change occurring with more than a handful of new faces in key positions on the football field.

Along with the incoming freshman class, there's a new athletic director, Katie Herrington, head football coach, Eddie Pierce and two new assistant coaches, Ron Brewer and Brad Griffin.

Taking the helm of the football team, the Leakesville native said he has been looking forward to this opportunity for quite a while.

"I first came to Jones as a player," Pierce recalled.  "To experience the transitions in my career, leading to this point, I could not be happier.  I've been coaching here for 10 years, and I know that this where I want to be.  It's home."

Home is exactly where Pierce hopes to bring championship trophies.  The two-time national champs have endured a four year drought since capturing their last state title in 2001.  Last year's Katrina-shortened season didn't help the Bobcats' efforts in changing its record, concluding that campaign with a dismal 3-4 record.

With a huge group of talented newcomers, coupled with a strong presence of veteran leadership, the Bobcats should mesh together making them a formidable foe.

The quarterback position is a two-man race between a pair of transfers.  Kris Thigpen, a Jackson State transfer who led Taylorsville to a state title in 2002, has been heavily battling Caleb Callahan of Varnell, Georgia for the top spot on the depth chart.  Callahan, a red-shirt freshman transferred to Jones from Troy University.  Both signal callers feature strong arms and are capable of leading this Bobcat team.

The Bobcats may be deepest in their backfield.  Petey Thigpen of South Jones, West Jones' Ray Ray Pickering and Jasper Ducksworth of Mize bring an abundance of speed to the gridiron.  Each should see his share of carries throughout the season.

Pieri Feazell and Ellis Lankster of Prichard, Alabama, are guys that the Bobcat coaching staff can use in a number of ways.  Both may see time at receiver and in the secondary.  Feazell, a quarterback at Mount Olive, can be used there as well.  Lankster, on the other hand, has the ability to add a few carries to the statistics column.

The receiving corps will have to depend on one returnee, Michael Thigpen of Soso.  Pierce is looking for Taylorsville's Deran Hamilton and Atlanta, Georgia's Teandrea Brown to put up big numbers as well.

Richton's William Hinton will anchor the offensive line at right tackle.  The 6-5, 305-pound preseason All-American, will be joined by Big Creek's Ty Herrington at right guard and Greene County's R.J. Brown manning the left-tackle position.

On defense, the secondary could be the major question mark.  Lankster and Demario Leverett of Polk County Florida will be the key factors in stopping opponents' passing attacks.

The front seven is where the Bobcats could shine.  Collins' Tim Holloway will move up front alongside Greene County's Marvin Wash, and a pair from Collins, Justin Clark, and Jeremiah Price, with 6' 3", 280-pound All-American Rashad Rousell of Hahnville, California.  Another All-American and West Jones native, Archie Sims, will team with Taylorsville's Derrick Howard at the linebacker posts.

"If the game is decided in the trenches, I have faith that our guys can put us on top," added Pierce.

Brandan Sellers, a Wayne County product, and Ben Wall, a red-shirt freshman from Monticello, are vying for kicking duties.  Lankster and Ducksworth are the favorites as return men.

Everything is coming together after a long hot pre-season practice begins to wind down.  Pierce said he's eager to see if the preparations are successful.  "This transition has been such an easy process with the support I've received from (JCJC president) Dr. Jesse Smith, my experienced and dedicated coaching staff, and the hard work of our guys.  They've done everything I've asked of them.  I just hope we can come back with some wins."

The Bobcats open the season against 17th-ranked Northeast Mississippi at Booneville.  Jones will be trying to seek revenge against a Northeast team led by quarterback Brice Beck and running back Cameron Montgomery.

"Last year, the game was 9-7 going into the fourth quarter, until they ran away with it," recalled Pierce.  "Now, we're looking for redemption!"

The season opener kicks off Thursday, August 31, at 7 p.m. and the first home game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 14th against East Central.


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