Pearl River Community College finds itself in another rebuilding mode.
The Wildcats are coming off a second straight 2-7 campaign and will rely heavily on freshmen and transfers.
For the second straight year, PRCC has a different head coach. Ted Egger is the Wildcats’ interim coach after David Saunders resigned during the spring. Ryan Trevathan was also hired as offensive coordinator.
“The guys have been working hard, absorbing what we’ve been teaching,” Egger said in a release. “We think this is a talented group, but they just have to prove themselves on the field. Our kids are playing well together and that’s the biggest thing we needed to see.”
PRCC’s strength will be defensively, with the return of linebacker Chase Crosby, safety Zhaunte McElroy and defensive linemen Josh Neumann and Sigmund Lewis.
Crosby, who played at Harrison Central, had had 56 tackles, including eight for losses of 38 yards and four sacks for losses of 30 yards in eight games. McElroy had 42 tackles, two interceptions and six pass-breakups. Neumann played at Pearl River Central.
“We expect to be good on defense,” Egger said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back on that side of the ball, and that will be a big part of our game.”
Offensively, PRCC must replace its entire backfield with the departures of quarterback D.J. Gillins and 1,000-yard rusher Darious Leggett. Dalton Bradfield, Heath Greenlee and Ron Thompson are among the leading candidates battling to replace Leggett.
Kent State transfer Justin Agner takes over at quarterback. The Woodstock, Ga. native sat out the 2015 season while attending Air Force Prep in Colorado, then transferred to Kent State and was the team’s starter for the 2016 opener against Penn State.
Jay Banks Jr., who caught eight passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, is the top returning wide receiver. Former St. Martin standout Tyler Polk is also expected to play at wide receiver.
The Wildcats return two only starting offensive linemen: center Tremaine Chatman and left guard Tyrin Arceneaux.
“I expect us to take care of the football and be explosive on offense,” Egger said. “I believe you have to build your offense around what you have available. We have some good things going on, and we have some things we need to clean up.”
PRCC has one of the state’s top special teams players in kicker/punter Mark Johnson, a former Sun Herald All-South Mississippi soccer standout at Bay High. Johnson was 24 of 25 on PATs and averaged 47.7 yards a punt last season.
Pearl River Community College
Conference: MACJC South Division
2016 record: 2-7, 2-4.
Coach: Ted Egger
Aug. 31: Northeast, 6 p.m.
Sept. 7: Northwest, 6 p.m.
Sept. 14: at East Central, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 21: Hinds, 6 p.m.
Sept. 28: at Itawamba, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7: at Southwest, 5 p.m.
Oct. 14: Jones County, 1 p.m.
Oct. 21: Gulf Coast, 2 p.m.
Oct. 28: at Co-Lin, 3 p.m.