By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
After a playoff run for the 2011 season, the 2012 Northeast Community College Tigers football team slide backwards.
A 3-6 overall mark and 2-4 in North Division play was not the way head coach Ricky Smither hoped the season would play out.
“Now that I step back, the whole thing was that we were so young,” Smither said. “I had a lot of disappointment for the sophomores, but we had some young guys play really well.”
On the bright side, Smither reports that at least five Northeast sophomores will continue their football careers at four-year schools, led by Lavon Hooks from Atlanta, Ga. Hooks, a defensive lineman, is the No. 1 rated player at his position by JCGridiron for junior college players, had 9.5 sacks and 51 total tackles.
Northeast also had eight players in the recent MACJC All-Star game that remain uncommitted.
Smither also indicated that linebacker Nick Thomason and tight end Logan Stokes from Muscle Shoals, Ala., offensive lineman Jonathan Braddock from Ripley and linebacker J. R. White from Tuscumbia, Ala., would soon announce commitments.
Among the players Smither is looking forward to welcoming back are quarterback Matt Lipham, tight end Rusty Landry from Thrasher, offensive lineman Kortilous Ellis, wide receivers Shuntez Smith, Raymond Gee and Demarrion Haynes. defensive lineman Daniel Ross, linebackers Rezean Prather from Ripley and Daniel Ross, and Antwan Wilson and Antonious in the backfield.
Perhaps the best football moment for Smither and the Tigers was their Sept. 8 win over Jones County 30-21 on the road. Northeast also ended its season on a positive note, beating Mississippi Delta 24-3.
But perhaps the most important news going forward for the Tigers football program is the announcement by the school that a new fieldhouse will be constructed in the North end zone.
“This is the one thing that has been hurting the football program for a number of years,” Northeast athletic director Ricky Ford said.
“It’s been used by a number of coaches against us.
“When completed, it will make Northeast one of the ideal football and academic situations for an athlete to come to.”
The current fieldhouse has been in use since 1968, and administration at the highest level indicated that bidding began Tuesday, with a target move-in date of Aug. 1, 2013.
“I think there’s a waiting list to drive the bulldozer on this,” Smither said. “This facility will make a difference.”
S1 Copiah-Lincoln* L, 33-14
S8 at Jones County* W, 30-21
S13 at Holmes* L, 34-14
S20 Northwest* L, 19-13
S27 at Miss.Gulf Coast* L, 61-7
O4 at Coahoma* W, 21-17
O11 East Mississippi* L, 49-0
O20 Itawamba* L, 36-15
O25 at Miss. Delta* W, 24-3