Junior Colleges

Familiar foes Gulf Coast and Itawamba clash Thursday in JUCO opener

Each new year brings plenty of turnover in the junior college ranks, but Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College coach Chad Huff sees plenty of talent once again taking A.L. May Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday when the Bulldogs host familiar foe Itawamba to open the 2017 MACJC season.

The Bulldogs and Indians have met four times in the last three years, with Gulf Coast coming out victorious in three of the contests, including a 2015 playoff rout. The Indians did win the 2016 opener, however, so the Bulldogs are looking to get back into the win column in a series that pits former college roommates in Huff and ICC coach Sean Cannon against one another.

“They’re going to be very talented and have a quarterback who is coming back in the (Dan) Ellington kid who is committed to Central Arkansas. They have some receivers and are going to be big up front.

“They’re going to be a really good football team and will take everything we’ve got.”

Scouting ICC

Peyton Bender took the bulk of snaps at quarterback last year for ICC, but Ellington still saw plenty of action and was very efficient when behind center.

As a sophomore, Ellington completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 765 yards and eight touchdowns against just one interception. He also broke free for 406 yards and a team-high seven rushing touchdowns.

He’ll have at his disposal Terry Williams, ICC’s leading receiver from a year ago. As a freshman, Williams earned numerous honors after catching 66 passes for 910 yards and four touchdowns. He also made an impact in the return game.

Linebacker/defensive end Jarvis Hayes is back after recording 27 tackles and six sacks as a freshman. Defensive lineman Travis Sailo is another defensive Indian to watch after making 12 tackles and three sacks a year ago. Former Mississippi State signee and massive defensive lineman Jaquavious “Duke” Collins also highlights ICC’s roster.

About the Bulldogs

Gulf Coast enters the season with high hopes and talent to match. Although MGCCC graduated a bulk of its production from a year ago, the Bulldogs feel confident they added enough talent through transfers and prep signees to return to the MACJC title hunt.

The highest profile additions this year include quarterback Torrance Gibson (Ohio State/Cincinnati), receiver Zach Farrar (Oklahoma), tight end Landon Rice (Auburn), defensive back Saivion Smith (LSU) and defensive lineman Isaiah Washington (LSU). Daquan Newkirk (Auburn) was in Perkinston a year ago but didn’t play. He’s back to help anchor the defensive line alongside Washington.

Gulf Coast also returns one of the country’s top offensive linemen in Treyvion Shannon.

Following the ICC game, Gulf Coast travels to East Mississippi and Copiah-Lincoln in consecutive weeks before hosting East Central on Sept 21.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

Game plan

What: Itawamba at Gulf Coast

When: 7 p.m., Thursday

Online: Livestream.com/BulldogLIVE

Radio: 103.1 FM

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