By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – All the preparations are over – it's time to play football.
The Jones County Junior College Bobcats open the 2013 season at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Holmes Community College. The game will be videocast on www.jcjc.tv with Mark Easley and Lee Applewhite on the call. Airtime is 6:45 p.m.
Head coach Ray Perkins begins his second season with the Bobcats. Last year, JCJC needed a 32-yard field goal from Grant McLaurin with just 10.8 seconds remaining to beat Holmes, 10-8.
Holmes, under third-year coach Jeff Koontz, enters the season with high expectations.
The Bulldogs were 5-4 last year and return several talented players including running back Fred Franklin (5-8, 200), wide receiver Daniel Huffines (5-7, 160), defensive back Kris Givens (5-10, 175) and linebacker Quay Watt (6-1, 205).
Holmes also has a player listed as one of the top ten junior college players in the state by the Clarion-Ledger in defensive back Tee Shepard.
Shepard (6-1, 185) is a freshman from Fresno, Calif., and originally signed with Notre Dame. He wanted to transfer to Oklahoma, but the Irish would not release him and he is now at Holmes.
The Bobcats will use redshirt freshman Steven Swindle and true freshman Kenny
Coleman at quarterback. Swindle, an Oak Grove graduate, redshirted at Mississippi State University in 2012. Coleman guided Hazlehurst to the MHSAA 3A state championship last year.
JCJC will be young in the offensive line with only two starters returning – Jalen Beavers at right tackle out of Stringer and Levell Hartfield at left guard from Moss Points. Redshirt sophomore James Anthony of Wilkinson County, who played defense last year, is at a tackle slot. Petal sophomore Jaryd Whitman and Gautier freshman Tyrone Patterson have been getting reps at guard, while Bay freshman Travis Brogle has been at center.
Justin Harris, a sophomore from Morton, has moved from wide receiver to running back. Freshmen Thamaz Taylor of Purvis and Keshod Willis of Lumberton will also be at running back.
The Bobcats strength should be at wide receiver.
Dylan Bossier, Taylor Higgason and JaMicheal Willis are returning starters. Bossier is from Lafayette, La., and has already committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. Higgason is from Petal and Willis is from Gardendale High School in Birmingham, Ala. Others expected to play key roles at the wideout slots are Jackson Lanier sophomore Jarret Smith, Taylorsville freshman Rodregus Ducksworth, Quitman redshirt sophomore Quartez Cooks, Forrest County AHS sophomore Adarrius Perkins, Lafayette, Ala., freshman Qua Boyd and Northeast Jones freshman Josh Hosey.
On defense, JCJC returns only two starters – defensive tackle Steven Eddings out of Memphis, Tenn., and cornerback Victor Jenkins of Lumberton.
Joining Eddings in the defensive line will be South Jones sophomore Jamarcus Blanks at a tackle spot, along with ends Ben Benison of Stringer and Lazarus Shelby of Collins.
Takyler Harris of Bolivar, Tenn., Courtney Gaines of Memphis, Tenn., and Devin Smith of Hancock are also listed at tackles, while Justice Coleman of Gautier and former Southern Miss track standout Jamal Young of McComb will be at ends.
Kendall Island of Bay and Jamal Lucas of Hoover, Ala., will be at linebacker positions, backed up by Doug Cross of Picayune, Ashton Elzey of Tylertown, Richard Scott of Prentiss and Fezell Myers of Collins.
Brennon Packer of Perry Central and Jamal Hatten of Hattiesburg are battling for one cornerback slot, while Charles Lewis of West Marion and Scott Martin of Jackson Murrah will backup Jenkins.
Marcus Betts of Long Beach will be at the ‘Bobcat' slot, while Lawrence Hopkins of North Forrest is at strong safety and D'Andre Jackson of Jackson Bailey Magnet is at free safety. Xavier Leflore of Hattiesburg is behind Hopkins, while Coty Mitchell of Bay and Andrew Depperschmidt of East Central will back up Jackson. Kelvin Winston of Oak Grove backs up Betts.
McLaurin and Northeast Jones freshman Cole Byrd will handle the kicking duties. Smith, who was an NJCAA second-team All-American as a return specialist last year, will be returning kicks again this year.
The Bobcats will be on the road again next week when they travel to Booneville to take on Northeast Mississippi Community College at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.
Holmes goes to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on Sept. 5.