Wolves brace for Pearl River passing attack
WESSON — Co-Lin’s downhill season comes to an end Thursdaynight in Stone Stadium. Playoff-bound Pearl River Community Collegevisits the Wolves in the regular-season finale for both SouthDivision schools. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Co-Lin (2-6, 1-4), riding a 5-game losing streak, faces apowerful Pearl River (7-1, 4-1) squad which is fresh from a 38-0victory over Gulf Coast. The Wildcats, led by second-year headcoach Tim Hatten, are runners-up to Hinds (7-1, 6-0) in the South.Hinds beat Pearl River 31-27 in the fourth week of the season.
The Wildcats will travel to North Division champion Northwest(7-1, 5-0) for a first round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 8.Hinds will host North runner-up Mississippi Delta (6-2, 4-1) Nov.8.
“We’ve got to approach this game like any other one,” Hattenconcluded. “We’ve taken the season one game at a time and have beensuccessful for the most part thus far. Co-Lin is just one more steptowards us winning a state title and we can’t afford to look pastthem.”
Co-Lin’s offense is rock bottom in the state, averaging 227.4yards a game (108.5 rush, 118.9 pass), while Pearl River’srenowned, nationally-ranked aerial show is second only toNorthwest’s, averaging 385.5 yards an outing (132.8 rush, 252.8pass). The Rangers average 420.5 yards a game (255.6 rush, 239.1pass).
Defensively, the Wolves are fourth in total defense, while PRCCis third. Co-Lin has given up an average of 231.7 yards a game(124.2 rush, 107.5 pass) through eight games, with its passingdefense third-best in the state. Pearl River, on the other hand,has the third-best defense in the league statistically, giving upan average of 211.1 yards a game (58.8 rush, 152.4 pass).
The Wildcats are quarterbacked by strong-armed sophomore AnthonyJohnson (6-2, 210) of Duncan, S.C. Johnson has passed for 1,911yards and 21 touchdowns, completing 108 of 234 passes. He’s thrown7 interceptions.
Johnson’s primary receivers are freshman Larry Brackins (6-5,214) of Dothan, Ala. and sophomore Larry Kendrick (6-0, 207) ofDavenport, Fla. Brackins leads the league with 33 catches for 603yards and 8 touchdowns. Kendick stands second and has caught 22passes for 527 yards and 8 TDs.
PRCC, which won the division crown a year ago, handed Northwestits only loss of the season with a hard-fought 17-7 victory inPoplarville Sept. 11.
“Looks like we’ll be playing the Rangers (NWCC) again,” saidHatten. “But we can’t look past Co-Lin even though we’ve got aplayoff spot clinched. We’ve got to continue to work hard on thepractice field and remain focused. Anybody can beat anybody on agiven day in our league.
“Co-Lin’s defense can give you problems,” Hatten added. “They’vegot some talented athletes on the defensive side and they wouldlike nothing better than to knock off the Wildcats. It’s our job ascoaches to prevent that from happening.”
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Tim Dobbins of Nashville,Tenn. leads Co-Lin in tackles. He has accounted for 47 solo stopsand 40 assists.
Freshman defensive back Brandon Williams of Port Allen, La., hasaccounted for 37 solo stops and 21 assists. Sophomore punter ThomasGarland of Crystal Springs is averaging 36.5 yards per punt.
“We will definitely be tested,” said Co-Lin head coach DavePoinsett. “Pearl River can light it up with their passing game.They only have three running plays.”
This is the last game for 17 sophomores on Co-Lin’s 55-manroster. “It would be good to beat Pearl River and end our season ona positive note,” said Poinsett. “We could actually prove we can dosomething besides make mistakes.”
The Wolves continued to struggle offensively in last week’s 30-7loss to archrival Southwest. Co-Lin got a fourth-quarter, 19-yardtouchdown connection from quarterback Ty Smith to tight end BillyWilliams to avoid a shutout.
The Wolves managed just 25 yards rushing against Southwest and125 yards passing.
Wolf Tails: Thursday marks the 68th time Co-Linand Pearl River have collided on the gridiron. The Wildcats leadthe series 34-31-3. Last year Pearl River beat Co-Lin 31-14 atPoplarville.