Fulton, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College football team begins the final month of its 2017 campaign by venturing slightly south for a primetime rivalry showdown.
The Tigers will visit Itawamba Community College for the first time in three seasons on Thursday, October 5. Kickoff for the 58th edition of this storied series is slated for 7 p.m. at Eaton Field.
Those that cannot attend the matchup can watch it live and in high definition on NEMCCTV. Tune in starting at 6:30 p.m. for the pregame show by visiting www.nemcctv.com on any computer, smartphone or tablet.
The Northeast Broadcasting Network also includes new radio affiliate WOWL Fun 91. An audio simulcast featuring Carter Smith, the Voice of the Tigers, can be heard on frequencies 91.9 FM from Burnsville, 92.9 FM from Florence, Ala., and 102.3 FM from Killen, Ala.
The game pits two major opposites against each other. Northeast is allowing only 288.4 yards per game defensively, which is among the top 25 nationally, while the Indians are 11th in the country with an average of 472.2 yards offensively.
"It's going to be a full speed football game," said Tigers head coach Greg Davis. "I think the kids will compete hard. This is a big game for the community, but really and truly there is no pressure because we've just got to do our job."
A plethora of talented athletes guide the efforts of the Northeast defense. Provine High School graduate Juwan Taylor has a team-best 45 tackles and also recorded the first interception of his collegiate career one week ago.
Johnathon Edwards of Philadelphia, who holds offers from the University of Colorado and West Virginia University, follows Taylor with 42 takedowns and four passes defended.
The Tigers boast the reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) Defensive Player of the Week in Sam Williams. He accumulated a career-best 12 tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble during Northeast's win at Coahoma Community College.
Northeast's offensive line, which is led by sophomore starters Kelton Edwards and Jake Wilcox of Hernando and Micheal Cameron from Philadelphia, continues to block well. The Tigers have conceded only four sacks themselves through five weeks of the campaign.
That has afforded players like Desmond Hunter the time to make plays. The Wilkinson County High School alumnus had season-highs of three passing touchdowns and 134 yards against Coahoma.
Oxford's Kenzie Phillips had a game-high 85 rushing yards versus Itawamba inside Tiger Stadium last year. He currently leads Northeast and is sixth in the Magnolia State with 90.2 yards per outing.
Dan Ellington is the catalyst for the Indians' offense with just under 2,000 yards between rushing and passing with 16 scores. His favorite target is Terry Williams, who has 48 catches for 606 yards.
Devan Hollins has a team-best 44 tackles for Itawamba, which is receiving votes in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings. Quinshay Heard trails him with 38 stops.
Both squads have an excellent kick returner to utilize on special teams. Northeast's Dazion Kincaid from Morton High School has 252 yards and a touchdown while Keshon Heard of Itawamba has 210 yards and one score.
"The biggest thing that our kids are doing is playing as a team," Davis said. "The last two games we've rose as a football team. It's not about where you start. It's where you finish and I'm really proud of the way this team has played."
The Tigers were victorious in the previous meeting between the two adversaries by a final score of 30-12 in Booneville last year. The Indians were held scoreless for the first three quarters in that matchup.
Itawamba leads the all-time series over Northeast by a 37-17-3 margin. The Indians edged the Tigers with a 38-19 decision during the last matchup played in Fulton on October 9, 2014.