By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
In four weeks, the curtain goes up on the 2012 junior college football season.
The journey toward season openers on Aug. 30 begins this week for Ricky Smither and Jon Williams.
Smither, the head coach of the Northeast Community College Tigers, welcomes in his team to begin practice on Tuesday.
“This first week will be conditioning, just getting them back in shape,” said Smither, whose Tigers finished 6-4, 4-2, and qualified for the state playoffs last season. “But most important will be team chemistry.”
Developing the inter-workings of the Tigers will be very important as Smither welcomes only 12 to 15 sophomores back.
“It’s really hard to make predictions about this team until the first game,” said Smither, whose Tigers will host Copiah-Lincoln in its season opener. “This group has worked into better shape than any group we’ve ever had.
“And we seem to be ahead of the game with our freshmen.”
Meanwhile, the Itawamba Community College Indians have a two-day jump on their rival, having reported Sunday.
“We’ve come a long way in terms of overall conditioning,” said Williams, whose Indians finished 4-5, 4-2, tied for second in the North Division last season. “In the time allotted, we’ve been able to meet a lot, and get our new players familiar with what we do.”
The Indians also appear to have an experience deficit for the 2012 season, with Williams guessing that only 25 per cent of his players were on the 2011 roster.
“Every team is different, and how they react to your program is different,” said Williams, whose Indians open the season on the road at East Central. “This team has a different mentality, and has already developed a unique mentality.
“I feel a lot of success in junior college football early in the season depends on chemistry. Right now, we’re trying to get ready for East Central.”
Itawamba will play its home opener Sept. 6, hosting Southwest.