Indians’ quarterback battle may go down to wire

LOGO-ICC-Sports-Logo-copyBy GENE PHELPS and BRANDON SPECK
Daily Journal

FULTON – The battle for the starting quarterback job at Itawamba Community College may not be settled until Aug. 29 – the date of the Indians’ home season opener against East Central.

It’s a three-man race featuring sophomores Griff Loftis and Andrew Goodman and redshirt freshman Chase Watson.

“We’ve got a good problem,” ICC head coach Jon Williams told reporters Thursday during the team’s annual media day. “Competition makes you better. The only favorite I got is the best one.”

Goodman, from Mill Creek, N.C., was the starter last season until he was sidelined with a shoulder injury. He was one of the nation’s leaders in total offense when he went out.
Loftis, a former Mooreville standout, took over and completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,716 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

“I know the offense a whole lot better this year,” Loftis said. “I’m hoping to keep the hot hand and keep the spot.”

PRESEASON RANKING
ICC is ranked No. 16 in the NJCAA preseason poll. But don’t read too much into that, Williams said.

“Those preseason rankings are somewhat mythical,” Williams said. “There’s really not a lot to base it on. “We’re optimistic, but like Mike Tyson once said, everybody has a great plan until they get punched in the mouth. Hopefully we’re the one doing that.”

What to base it on begins in two weeks, when ICC hosts East Central. Five MACJC teams are ranked, Gulf Coast at No. 1, East Mississippi (8), defending state champ Co-Lin (9) and Hinds (15).

ALIVE AND KICKING
Two of Northeast Mississippi’s top high school kickers – Pontotoc’s Jeb Millender and Houston’s Emmit Dendy – give the Indians a solid one-two punch.

“Both will complement each other,” Williams said.

Millender will punt and handle extra points and short field goal attempts. Dendy will handle kickoffs and long field goal attempts.

DEFENSE KNOWS
The Indians return a bulk of their defensive line and linebackers, including Lafayette sophomore D.Q. Reynolds. The 6-foot-1, 350-pound noseguard said the unit has specific goals.

“We’re looking for three or more turnovers, looking to score a lot of points on defense,” he said.

The Indians held teams to two touchdowns or less in five of nine games last season, four of those wins.