NJCAA Football Game of the Week & This Week in NJCAA Football
Phoenix College (Ariz.) at #4 Snow College (Utah)
Sept. 13, 2008; Badger Stadium (2,000 capacity), Ephraim, Utah
Listen live at http://www.snowbadgers.com
However, this early season match-up does not count as a conference game. The two teams will meet again in Phoenix on Nov. 8.
The two teams have met 30 times, with Snow owning a 21-9 advantage in the series, including the Badgers’ 33-13 victory in last year. The two programs first hooked up in 1978 with the Bears winning that first contest 42-7.
The Snow-Phoenix match-up is a significant one as it continues a long-standing rivalry of the two WSFL teams, which dates back to the league’s inception in 1985 when the two teams finished No. 1 (Snow) and No. 2 (Phoenix) in the final NJCAA national rankings.
Scouting the two teams…
The Bears enter the 2008 season with a new coach, Land Jacobsen, who previously spent five years as head coach at Western New Mexico University and three years as head coach at Scottsdale Community College (Ariz.). Jacobsen’s career also includes starting a new franchise for an Arena 2 football team, the Wichita Stealth, which he took to the playoffs in his second year as head coach.
Jacobsen has several great players on his squad this year, including Tim House, who rushed for 521 yards and five touchdowns in 2007. D-lineman Peni Fiuangaihetau also returns after recording 44 tackles with two sacks last year.
The Bears got off to a great start last weekend by defeating Pima Community College (Ariz.) 41-0. House led the team with 90 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Three others rushed for over 70 yards in the contests as Phoenix racked up 264 yards on the ground.
The Bears defense allowed just 41 offensive yards from Pima. Phoenix forced four interceptions, three being picked by Santonyo Jones. Linebacker Sosaia Taufa lead the team with 15 tackles, while Fiuangaihetau had eight tackles.
”This is going to be a great game,” said Jacobsen. “Snow has a fine program and is very well coached. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
#4 Snow College (Utah)
Steve Coburn (3 years, 24-2) again has a solid team this season with Snow. The Badgers are the two-time defending WSFL champs and they have now started the season ranked in the Top 10 for the fifth consecutive year.
Snow has gotten off to a 2-0 start with victories over Air Force Prep (56-17 on Aug. 29) and Mesa Community College (24-19 on Sept. 6). However, Snow has been hit hard with injuries early this season. Freshman Quinn Meacham has been called up at the quarterback position to fill in for injured Jon Eastman, who threw for 1,647 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Meacham has done quite well throwing for 262 yards and two TD’s in Snow’s two wins.
Muka Atiga and Tyson Church are leading the Snow rushing attack. The two have combined for 257 yards and four touchdowns.
The Badgers are also getting great play from its defensive secondary led by sophomores Jordan Brown and Joey Schrader. Brown had 13 tackles and a game saving interception against Mesa last week, while Schrader had 10 tackles and a 43-yard interception return for a TD against Air Force Prep.
When asked about the Phoenix Bears coach Coburn said, “In order for us to be successful we must contain their running game. They are big and strong up-front on defense and we will have our hands full trying to establish the line of scrimmage.”
PILGRIM’S PRIDE BOWL CANCELLED
Now some disappointing news for NJCAA football fans; the NJCAA was informed this week that the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl, which has been in existence since 2004, has cancelled its game this year due to financial troubles. The bowl’s committee sited economic concerns as the primary reason for the cancellation. With the loss of the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl, there will now be eight post-season bowl games this season.
THIS WEEK IN NJCAA FOOTBALL
After two straight weeks with match-ups of ranked teams, week three in NJCAA football has 17 ranked teams taking on unranked opponents. It could be a weekend of upsets as all 17 teams will be challenged by some familiar foes.
Thursday night will once again feature the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, as all 14 teams will be playing critical conference games. No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College hosts Southwest Mississippi Community College, fifth-ranked Jones County Junior College (Miss.) travels to 0-2 Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.) and eighth-ranked Pearl River Community College (Miss.) hosts Northwest Mississippi Community College.
The only game outside of Mississippi on Thursday is Trinity Valley Community College (Texas) against Louisiana College JV. This game was supposed to be played last Monday (Sept. 8), but damage to the playing surface at Louisiana College from Hurricane Gustav moved the game to Thursday. Trinity Valley received four votes in this week’s rankings.
Saturday’s slate of games is loaded with many interesting match-ups, including upstart Arkansas Baptist College hosting No. 10 Georgia Military College. ABC did not win a game last year in their first season of play in NJCAA, but has defeated Highland Community College (Kan.) and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College to start their second year.
Also of note is a Midwest Football Conference bout between No. 9 Iowa Western Community College and Joliet Junior College (Ill.). Joliet was ranked No. 16 in the pre-season poll, but was left out of the first poll due to their opening season loss to Harper College (Ill.), who is ranked 15th in the latest poll.
Harper happens to be the only ranked team in action on Sunday when they face North Central College JV.
Most NJCAA teams have played at least one game by now, but two programs will actually be making their season debut’s this weekend. New Mexico Military Institute will open up at home against Cisco Junior College on Saturday, while Dean College (Mass.) takes the field for the first time on Sunday against Bryan University JV.