ELLISVILLE – It will be the 89th annual “Catfight” here Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field.
But it will be the first Saturday game of the season for No. 14 Jones College when the Bobcats host the Pearl River Wildcats and that has JC head coach Steve Buckley concerned.
“It is a change of routine and it does concern you a little bit,” he said from his office on Monday morning. “Our kids are routine-based, I guess you could say and that does change this week. We will not practice today (Monday). We are just going to meet and install the gameplan.
“We will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and have a walk-through on Friday. It will be a little different schedule for the kids this week, but hopefully they will adapt and adjust and get it all figured out for Saturday.”
The Bobcats are 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the MACJC South Division after last week’s 34-6 win at Southwest. The Wildcats are on a four-game losing streak. PRCC opened the season with a 35-31 victory over Itawamba. Since then, they have lost to No. 3 East Mississippi (49-15), No. 15 Copiah-Lincoln (32-9), East Central (35-0) and No. 11 Hinds (51-9).
PRCC is 1-4 overall and 0-3 in division play, but Buckley said his team respects the Wildcats.
“You look at them and they have had some frustrating defeats,” he said. “But they have a good football team and in this league anything can happen on any day. We have to get ready to play a Homecoming game on Saturday.
“We need a good week of practice and we need to get some people well.”
The Bobcats lead the series, 44-42-2.
Pearl River is led on offense by quarterback Terrance Humphrey, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound redshirt freshman from Clarksdale, running back Lance Stewart, a 6-foot, 200-pound freshman from Lafayette County and receiver Jaylan Wilson, a 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore from Bay St. Louis. Linebacker Noah Mitchell, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound freshman from Greene County, tops the Wildcat defense.
Jones is coming off a complete team effort victory at Southwest.
The Bobcats piled up 504 yards of total offense and limited the Bears to 163. Jones had 279 yards rushing and 225 passing yards.
Running back Kalyn Grandberry (Memphis, Tennessee) rushed 27 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Fred Barnum (Warren Central) was 9-of-10 through the air for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brodie King (Biloxi) had four catches for 64 yards and a score and Decoria Banks (Holmes County Central) had his first career reception for Jones, an 18-yard touchdown catch.
“I thought the bottom line was that we established the downhill running game,” Buckley said. “When you do that, it opens a lot of things up in other parts of the field. I thought Kalyn responded and had a very good game.
“I thought Fred did well. He had the one huge mistake where he was supposed to read the safety. The safety jumped the underneath route, but we had the post wide open. That was very uncharacteristic of Fred missing that. He threw it a little behind Manny (Jones) and they picked it. They ended up getting a score off of that and that was pretty much their only drive of the game.”
Buckley was pleased the play of the offensive line, led by starters Alexis Galle (Biloxi) at center, guards, guards Logan Canerdy (Caledonia) and Christian Barnes (Ocean Springs) and tackles Jaquavius Yates (Crystal Springs) and Jordan Chapman (Greene County.
“We got a hat on a hat,” he said. “When you block the right people and you have good running backs, they usually get yards. It all starts up front and the offensive line did a great job recognizing fronts and getting on the right people. I thought we blocked them pretty well.”
The Bobcats dominated defensively, allowing just 11 first downs. Jones had eight tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks.
Back J.D. Rutherford (St. Stanislaus) had 11 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a pass interception and linebacker Daylen Gill (Louisville) had 1.5 TFLs and a sack. Lineman Zach Causey (Madison Central) had a sack and linebacker Kenderian Dixon (Yazoo County) and lineman Jalen Williams (Tylertown) had eight tackles each.
“I thought the defense established the line of scrimmage early,” Buckley said. “They did a good job.”
Jones currently is tied for third in division play with HInds with only one division loss. Gulf Coast and East Central are currently on top at 2-0.
With only three division games left in the season, Buckley knows the Bobcats cannot afford to slip up the rest of the way.
“There is so much parity in our league right now,” he said. “You just look at every team one through 14 and anybody can beat anybody on any given day. Our kids have to understand that and be ready to respond. Everything is up for grabs and everybody controls their own destiny right now. That’s an important thing halfway through the season when you can still control the end result.
“But we’ve got to take this thing one game at a time. There is no room for error and we have to be ready Saturday.”
Jones will have a quick turnaround next week.
The Bobcats host Northeast Mississippi at 7 p.m. on Oct. 10.
Pearl River will host Southwest on Oct. 12.