It all comes down to this.
When Gulf Coast visits Jones County at 7 p.m. Thursday, the Bulldogs’ season will be hanging in the balance.
Win and the Bulldogs are in the MACJC postseason. That’s the easiest scenario.
If the Bulldogs lose, things get a bit murky.
MGCCC (5-3, 4-1) enters Thursday night tied with East Central atop the MACJC South Division. However, ECCC (4-4, 4-1), which plays Southwest on Thursday, holds a tie-breaker over the Bulldogs. The only other team that could factor into the battle for the South’s two playoff spots is Copiah-Lincoln, which sits at 3-2 in the south.
Should Co-Lin lose to Pearl River on Saturday, that’s another guaranteed entry into the playoffs.
If Co-Lin, East Central and Gulf Coast all get into a three-way tie, the Bulldogs will be kept out of the playoffs.
“We just have to win to get in. That’s our mentality. At all costs,” MGCCC coach Chad Huff said Thursday. “That takes all other scenarios out of the picture. That’s our mentality.
“This is our opportunity to play for a championship.”
Gulf Coast will have its hands full with JCJC (5-3, 2-3). The Bobcats looked like one of the better teams in the state early on with wins over East Mississippi, Delta and Coahoma, but they stumbled down the stretch, losing three of their last five to fall out of the playoff race.
“They’re a football team that, were it not for a couple of mistakes and bad plays, very well could be undefeated,” Huff said. “They have one of the best defensive lines we have seen all year.
“We’re really going to have to play well and execute.”
The Bobcats’ defense is led by Ole Miss commit Markel Winters, who is among the league’s leaders with 12.5 sacks. 247Sports also ranks fellow defensive end Marques Ford among the nation’s top recruits. Former Georgia safety Jonathan Abram also bolsters the Bobcats’ defense.
Scott Phillips has been one of the MACJC’s top running backs this year, rushing for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns.
JCJC has used two freshmen quarterbacks this year in Mason Blocker and Detric Hawthorn.
Hawthorn is more of a dual-threat quarterback for JCJC. He has completed just 42.9 percent of his passes for 273 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 281 yards and three scores.
“He’ll present a similar look to Pearl River’s quarterback (Timothy Arnold) last week,” Huff said.
Blocker has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 950 yards and six touchdowns. The two QBs have combined for nine interceptions.
Heading into last week’s 30-17 win over PRCC, Huff focused on taking care of the football and not giving the Wildcats extra possessions. As it turns out, PRCC was the one that had difficulty taking care of the football. Gulf Coast forced two interceptions deep in PRCC’s territory early in the contest but came away from both possessions with just six points total. Two touchdowns were also pulled off the board for penalties.
“We definitely are always trying to get better and that’s an area we’re looking at. ... I think we made some plays, we just made some mistakes, too,” Huff said. “When we have a chance to score touchdowns, we can’t make silly mistakes. Let’s get it in the end zone.”
Former Resurrection quarterback Larry Sisson did well in his second consecutive start. On the year, Sisson has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 442 yards and three touchdowns. He has also shown the ability to pick up a first down with his legs if the pocket collapses and has rushed for 48 yards on six carries.
“He has done a good job of not forcing things and taking what the defense gives him,” Huff said.
JCJC has a strong Coast connection on its roster. Former South Mississippi standouts on the team include Pascagoula linebacker Ramon Patton, East Central receiver Nate Cohen, Long Beach receiver Trevor Terry, Harrison Central linemen Jordon Beaton and Michael Boyce, Vancleave offensive lineman Cal Bakker, St. Martin defensive lineman Jimon Dixon and St. Martin receiver Kaleb Clark.
Beaton is among JCJC’s leaders with 4.5 sacks. Terry, a Southern Miss commit, has caught 15 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown. Cohen has six receptions for 79 yards.
Who: Gulf Coast and Jones County
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 103.1 FM
MACJC South Division Standings
South Divison Record