Coaching landscape changes in the South

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The landscape on the sidelines of junior college football in South Mississippi has changed drastically over the past few weeks.

So much so that Pearl River Community College head coach William Jones, who just finished his first year at the helm of the Wildcats, is one of the more tenured taskmasters in the South Division.

Both of the River’s chief rivals on the gridiron, Gulf Coast and Jones, have new head coaches in place.

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David Thornton has been named the interim head football coach at Jones County Junior College.

Thornton will take over as permanent head coach of the Bobcats on Jan. 15, pending the approval of the school’s board of trustees.

Thornton has served as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator for the past two years at JCJC.

Thornton succeeds Ray Perkins, who resigned in December after two years as head coach of the Bobcats. Perkins guided the Bobcats to a 15-5 record, including the MACJC South Division title in 2013.

Thornton came to JCJC after serving as offensive coordinator at Southwest Mississippi JC from 2008-11.

He served as offensive coordinator at Middle Georgia Junior College from 1998-2000. The Warriors were 27-8 and won two NJCAA bowl games.

“I am very excited about the opportunity,” Thornton said. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, too. It is a great league and it is a really strong league. We’ve had some success the past two years, especially in the South Division, and we played for a state championship. I am sure we are going to have a bulls-eye on our back, but hopefully we can build on some of that momentum we have established.”

Perkins’ departure wasn’t expected. His resignation came less than a week after Gulf Coast head coach Steve Campbell left to take the head coaching job at  the University of Central Arkansas.

“Over two years ago, I had the great privilege to become associated with Jones County Junior College, more specifically with the kids at Jones County Junior College,” Perkins said. “I will be forever more grateful and thankful to (JCJC School President Dr.) Jesse Smith for making that happen. It has truly been an honor to be the head football coach at Jones County Junior College and I wish them nothing but the best in the future. That being said, over the past couple of months, I’ve decided to go in another direction.”

In two years as head coach of the Bobcats, Perkins guided JCJC to a 15-5 record.