By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Postseason play is not a possibility for the Itawamba Community College football team in 2012.
How about a three-game winning streak to close out the season?
Tough task for the Indians, considering they host the defending national champion, the No. 3-ranked East Mississippi Lions, today at 4 p.m.
“Last year, comparatively speaking, that was the best team I’d seen in this league in a long time,” Itawamba coach Jon Williams said. “This year, I even think their skill position players are better.”
Indians football has been trending better of late, with a two-game winning streak that includes the most recent 36-15 victory over rival Northeast last week.
“It is always a momentum builder when you beat your rival,” Williams said. “I was pleased with every phase of the game.
“I hope the last two weeks have given us much needed momentum against one of the best teams in the country.”
The Northeast win included 163 yards passing by Mooreville freshman Griff Loftis, and three touchdowns. And on defense, Saltillo sophomore Quad Freeman recorded 13 solo and 17 total tackles, including four sacks.
Itawamba (5-3, 3-2) will certainly need efforts like this to carry onto the field against East (8-0, 5-0), which has already clinched the North Division title.
“East Mississippi is a threat to score every play,” Williams said. “They are well equipped with talent.
“Defensively, their whole secondary is the most talented I’ve seen. Offensively, I think a lot of people put so much focus on their receivers, that they forget about their running back.”
EMCC quarterback Quez Johnson, a freshman from Starkville, accounted for 536 yards total offense and seven touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) last week, in a 56-49 win over Northwest.
Both ICC and East have perhaps more than one way to approach this matchup today, considering both squads have only a win or a loss on paper riding on the outcome. Williams was pretty firm with what the Indians’ approach will be.
“We go into every game with a plan to win,” Williams said. “Obviously, we’re out of the playoff picture, but our work is not done.
“We’ve got to put our best 11 on each side of the ball, execute, and stay healthy throughout the course of the game. What a tremendous accomplishment it would be to do something experts say we shouldn’t do.”