Itawamba wants to ‘start fast, finish strong’

FULTON – Itawamba Community College football coach Jon Williams set the theme for his squad at media day on Wednesday:
“We want to think ‘start fast, finish stronger.’ ”
The Indians are coming off a 5-4 effort from 2010, with a 4-2 record in the MACJC North Division. That was good enough for a tie for second place in the division, but did not get them into the postseason.
Now, the 2011 season is fast upon Williams and the rest of the Indians, who kick off on the road Sept. 1 at Hinds. That group for Williams includes the usual incoming freshmen junior college programs must deal with, and new members to the coaching staff including offensive coordinator Aaron Flores.
“We’re going to be very young up front, so we’re looking to put guys in position to have success, especially early in the season,” said Flores, who comes to ICC after 10 successful seasons at Butler Community College in Kansas, including a national championship in 2003. “There’s not a whole lot of difference between Butler and here.
“You’re always dealing with a whole lot of freshmen, who are expected to play.”
Flores should have an experienced backfield with sophomore cousins Keon McGaughy from Shannon and DeShawn McGaughy from Fulton returning. Last season, the two combined for 887 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.
“You’ve got to look to those guys to be leaders, both on the field and off,” Flores said. “I feel good about our running back situation, and we’ll have to lean on guys who have game experience, especially early in the season.”
Now Williams and Flores have one more week to prepare the Indians for their season-opener.
“Between now and then, we need to give them something to hang their hat on, and have things become second nature,” Flores said. “We want them to feel comfortable and confident.”
Following its matchup with Hinds, Itawamba will open its home season Sept. 8 against Pearl River.

David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal