Pearl River should show dramatic improvement
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014
POPLARVILLE — Second-year Pearl River Wildcat head coach William Jones says his squad should show dramatic improvement in 2014.
Coming off a lack-luster 4-5 campaign during his inaugural season a year ago, Jones touted his newest recruiting class, a “spirited” spring practice and workhorse summer workout program, as well as a host of talented returning sophomores that will help propel the Wildcats back into the upper echelon of the Mississippi Juco ranks.
“If a hard work ethic is any indication, we’ll definitely be an improved team,” said Jones, who served as defensive coordinator at PRCC from 2001 through 2007 before heading to East Mississippi CC for five seasons. “I can’t say enough about how dedicated our guys have been during the spring and summer.”
Offensively, The River returns two of the league’s top O-lineman in Cyrus Ekugwum (6-4, 320) and Derrick Isaac (6-5, 315) that will help open holes for premier running back Darrell Robinson (5-10, 200), who rushed for a team-high 706 yards as a freshman in 2013 and led the squad in scoring with eight TDs (six rush, two receiving). The sophomore speedster set the MHSAA scoring record with 52 touchdowns as a senior at Noxubee County High in 2012.
“There’s a lot on Darrell’s shoulders this year, but he’ll be complimented by a pair of freshmen in Quantrell Reddix (6-3, 214) and Jerome Keys (5-10, 200),” Jones added. “Those two are inexperienced at this level, but will see lots of playing time.”
Other sophomore offensive lineman include Terrence Carter (6-3, 315), Ryan Rainey (6-2, 285), and Nick Thomas (6-4, 315), a Northwest Mississippi CC transfer, while talented freshmen J.C. Caldwell (6-0, 260), Allen Winford (6-5, 285), and Keefa Nelson (6-2, 290) will provide needed depth.
Towering tight end Rusty Clark (6-7, 250) returns to the line up, whom Jones says is one of the very best in the state at the position.
Independence CC (Kan.) transfer Kaylon Cooper (6-2, 220) seems to have a firm hold on the quarterback spot after an outstanding spring practice. While playing in the touted Jayhawk Conference in 2012, Cooper, who sat out the 2013 season, was tutored under second-year PRCC offensive coordinator Scott Anderson.
Two freshmen QBs have shown lots of promise in Carter Hankins (6-3, 210), who guided Forrest County AHS to a Class 4A state title last fall, and Vonnie Howard II (6-4, 205).
The receiving corps is headed by returning All-Region 23 performer Charles Ducksworth, who had 13 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown last year. The sophomore is equally talented as a return man, averaging 44 yards on six kickoff returns as a freshman, including a 98-yarder for a TD against Copiah-Lincoln.
“Charles is one of those players that has the ‘it’ factor,” Jones explained. “He can take it all the way any time he touches the ball…as a receiver or a returner. We’re expecting a great year from him.”
Former Sumrall High receiving tandem — cousins Austin (6-2, 190) and Devontea Watts (6-0, 175) — are back. The duo accumulated over a combined 3,000 yards and 200 catches as seniors under SHS head coach Shannon White in 2012. Good things are also expected from freshmen WRs Corey Husband (6-4, 190), a former FCAHS standout, and Ambrose Ollie (6-2, 180), but Jones says the biggest surprise is former Wildcat hoops standout Bryant Magee (6-3, 185).
“Bryant has all the tools to be a great wide receiver,” he said. “He hasn’t played football since high school, but was a highly-recruited player out of West Marion in both sports. He chose the basketball route for two years, but wanted to get back on the gridiron and we couldn’t be more excited about having him on board.”
The defensive front will be anchored by returning starting tackle Courtney Miggens (6-5, 285), while sophomore tackle Tchaikovsky Catlett (6-1, 300) and ends Alvonte Bell (6-6, 255) and Carlton Burger (6-3, 235) also return after impressive freshman seasons. Michigan State transfer Noah Jones (6-3, 285) out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is an impressive newcomer to the defense, while redshirt freshman Victor Andrews (6-1, 300) should be vying for starting time.
The linebacking crew is impressive, headlined by returning starter at OLB Richard Thomas (6-0, 225), while Stacy Warren (6-0, 215), the former starting quarterback at Pascagoula High, plays the opposite side to Thomas.
“Both Richard and Stacey showed great improvement over the course of the spring and summer workouts,” said Jones, who also coaches the linebacking corps.
In the middle will be sophomore Antron Watts (6-0, 235), who possesses all the skills to be a standout backer.
Jones says the Wildcat secondary has the most experience returning. Free safety Quartavius Smith (6-2, 190) returns and is regarded as one of the best DBs in the league, according to Jones, while strong safety Taron Divens (6-1, 190) and cornerbacks Xavier Grindle (6-0, 200), Jamarl Holloway (6-0, 185) and Antwon Mitchell (5-11, 180) return for sophomore campaigns.
Impressive freshmen DBs Deandre Anderson (5-8, 180), Laquan Johnson (6-0, 190), Gerald McGee (6-2.205), Tarvarious Moore (6-2, 185), and Stevie Scott (6-1, 180) will be gunning for starting time at either safety or corner.
Returning long snapper Bobbie Daggett (5-11, 210) headlines the special teams, while two freshmen will handle the kicking duties in punter Cody Mikell (6-1, 200) and placekicker Javan Detto (5-10, 170).
PRCC kicks off its 2014 season Thursday, Aug. 28, when MACJC non-division foe Coahoma visits Dobie Holden Stadium for a 7 p.m. battle.