JCJC quarterback Detric Hawthorn (8) of Collins gets ready to hand the ball off to Scott Phillips of South Jones in a 49-7 win over East Central. (Photo by jucoweekly.org)

JCJC preps for annual ‘Cat Fight’

It’s always a big deal when Jones County meets Pearl River in any event.

But this year’s game takes on even more importance because both teams are trying to make the playoffs and only three games are left in the regular season.

No. 6 Hinds leads the MACJC South Division at 4-0, while No. 14 JCJC is 3-0 (5-1 overall). Pearl River and Mississippi Gulf Coast are both 2-1 and the top two teams qualify for the playoffs.

JCJC head coach Steve Buckley said his team respects the Wildcats.

“They are still in the hunt,” he said. “They are 3-3, but they are a better team than a 3-3 team. Last year, they came in here and beat our eyes out on our homecoming game (30-23). We have got to be ready to play.”

Today’s game kicks off at 1 p.m. at Dobie Holden Stadium in Poplarville. The game will air on www.jcjc.tv and the Jones County Junior College official Facebook page on Facebook Live with Mark Easley and Chris Robinson on the call.

After a season-opening 47-34 loss to No.1 East Mississippi, the Bobcats have won five straight games, including last week’s 49-7 decision over East Central.

Buckley was pleased with the win, but knows the Bobcats must continue to improve.

“Defensively, we dominated early,” he said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage, which was our goal going into the game. I thought it was our best performance by our inside guys on defense. Offensively, our numbers were good, but I don’t think we were as clean as we could have been. I think a lot of that had to do with East Central. I think they are a well-coached football team.

“In the kicking game, I thought we were average. I thought we settled down and did a better job covering as the game went on. But we have to be better from a kickoff and coverage standpoint. Overall, the performance was a solid one for us.”

Pearl River owns wins over Northeast Mississippi (27-21), East Central (59-40) and Southwest (30-17). The Wildcats have losses to Northwest (34-21), Hinds (42-10) and Itawamba (28-21).

The Wildcats are led by a pair of quarterbacks, freshman Markevion Quinn (6-3, 192) of Ruleville and sophomore Justin Agner (5-11, 205), a transfer from Kent State.

“They play two quarterbacks, a freshman and a Division I transfer,” Buckley said. “They can score and they are very solid on defense.”

Buckley said the Bobcats must continue to do the basics and keep improving if they want to be successful this weekend.

“Defensively, if there is one thing we can improve on that would be tackling. And we need to get aligned correctly. We do a lot of things on defense, so we have to aligned properly and execute our assignment from there.

“Offensively, we have to continue to take care of the football and stay in front of the chains. On special teams, we just need to continue to make plays.”

The Bobcats will host No. 7 Hinds for Homecoming at 2 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Pearl River will entertain No. 17 Mississippi Gulf Coast on Oct. 21.