Lofton shines as dual-sport athlete at JCJC

ELLISVILLE – To say Chris Lofton is one of the best athletes on the Jones County Junior College campus would be an understatement. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound sophomore from Raleigh was a second-team, All-MACJC performer for the baseball Bobcats in the spring. Now, he is a starting cornerback for head coach Eddie Pierce's football Bobcats this fall.

What is his favorite sport out of the two?

"It really does not matter," he said Tuesday afternoon in the Bobcat Fieldhouse. "I love them both. I could not choose between either one of them."

For now, however, it's all football for Lofton.

He has helped the Bobcats to a three-game winning streak, including a 27-0 shutout of Hinds Community College last week. That puts the Bobcats (3-2) atop the South Division at 3-0 with a showdown looming this week against 10th-ranked Pearl River Community College.

The Bobcats lost their first two games to Itawamba (21-7) and East Mississippi (28-17). But they have turned up the intensity in the last three games, posting wins over Co-Lin (28-24), East Central (32-10) and Hinds.

Lofton said the team did not panic after the first two contests.

"These last three games, we've played a lot better," he said. "We have been practicing hard and we did our best to get ready for division play. After those first two, we decided it was time to play. We could not lose any more."

Lofton starts as the boundary cornerback in the Bobcats' 4-2-5 defense. The boundary cornerback receives some help from a safety and usually covers the short side of the field.

He said it can be a tough position to play, but he enjoys it.

"It's fun," he said. "The main thing I have to do is just take care of the pass first. We look pass first and then run."

Last year, Lofton was trying to make the transition from being a Raleigh Lion to being a Jones Bobcat. He said it was difficult at first, but added this year has been much easier.

"As a freshman and coming from high school, it was a much faster pace," he said. "It's been an easier adjustment this year because I have gotten used to it. It is just way faster than high school."

Lofton owns 13 solo tackles and four assists so far this season. He also has a tackle for a loss and has the team's only interception this season, which came against East Mississippi preseason All-American quarterback Randall Mackey.

But he also does much more than play defense for the Bobcats. He is the holder for extra points and field goals and also returns punts and kickoffs. He averages 8.8 yards per return on punts and 19.8 yards per return on kickoffs.

He looks forward to the Bobcats' trip to Poplarville on Thursday for the annual ‘Catfight' against the Wildcats. The Wildcats (4-1 overall, 1-1 in division play) scored in the final minute to beat Jones 26-22 last year, but Lofton is optimistic about this year's outcome.

"I expect us to win," he said. "We fell short to them last year and they beat us in the last minute. We are not going to let that happen this year. If our offensive and defensive lines can do the job, I think we will bring it home."

After the football season is completed, Lofton will turn his attention to coach Christian Ostrander's baseball team.

Last year, Lofton batted either leadoff or second in the order, played left field and helped the Bobcats achieve a school-best, 36-16 record. The left-handed batter led the team with a .391 batting average, led the team in hits with 68 and led the team in triples with nine. He shared the team lead in doubles with 11. He also had four home runs, 30 RBIs, a .457 on-base percentage and was 14-of-17 in stolen bases.

The Bobcats advanced to the state tournament, where they defeated Northeast Mississippi Community College in an opening round series, but then fell in two straight games in the overall MACJC Tournament.

Lofton is hopeful the 2010 baseball Bobcats can turn some heads again in the spring.

"We fell a little short," he said. ""I think we've got a chance to win it this year. Most of our starters are coming back."

One may think playing both sports would wear down an athlete. But Lofton does not seem to mind. In fact, he would love to continue to play both sports at a senior college, but he knows that may not be possible.

"It's not really hard, but your body is always tired," he said. "I would rather play both, but I will have to see which sport gives me the best scholarship offer."

Thursday's football game at Pearl River kicks off at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard on or on WGDQ-FM, 93.1, with Lance Pittman on the play-by-play and Mark Easley providing color commentary. The pregame show begins at 6 p.m.

JC Football Top Stories