Co-Lin braces for Northwest attack

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

WESSON — After chasing Pearl River quarterback Jimmy Oliver allover Stone Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Co-Lin Wolfpack’sdefense faces another challenge. Northwest Community Collegequarterback Lewis Kuffuor has been compared to NFL superstarMichael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons.

Kuffuor leads the unbeaten Rangers (3-0, 1-0) into Stone StadiumThursday night for a 7 p.m. contest with Co-Lin (1-2, 0-1). TheRangers are ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA national poll.

Co-Lin defensive coordinator Brett Shufelt has watched Kuffuor(6-0, 200), a sophomore from Atlanta, Ga., on film.

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“Kuffuor is very, very fast,” said Shufelt. “His big thing isthat he can score from anywhere on the field. He’s a real goodscrambler and they run the option real effectively. He’s a big kidand he breaks a lot of tackles. If you miss a tackle, that’s atouchdown.”

Kuffuor was named the Mississippi Association ofCommunity/Junior Colleges Offensive Player of the Week. In theRangers’ 24-12 win over Mississippi Delta, Kuffuor rushed for 116yards and 2 touchdowns plus passing for 128 yards and 1 TD.

The Rangers have more offensive weapons. Eldra Buckley (6-0,180), from Charleston, is Northwest’s top running back. “He’s avery powerful runner,” said Shufelt. “They like to run a delay-drawto him. He’s pretty physical.”

Northwest’s top receiver is Derrick Hassel (6-1, 200), asophomore from Southaven.

“I’m disappointed in the way our defensive linemen have played,”said Shufelt. “They have had two tough weeks but we have got to getbetter.”

Leading the Wolves on defense against Pearl River was sophomorelinebacker Lewis Thompson of Fayette.

Shufelt said Corey Rhodes and James Hobbs “played very well intheir first games starting at cornerback.” Rhodes returned aninterception 36 yards for a touchdown. Hobbs had 6 tackles andbroke up a pass. He was covering Larry Brackins, PRCC’sAll-American receiver.

Northwest is under the direction of veteran head coach BobbyFranklin who is in his 24th year. Franklin, an Ole Miss graduate,has an overall record of 197-54-6. The Rangers were 8-2 last seasonand won the North Division but lost in the state semifinals toPearl River.

Co-Lin head coach Glenn Davis said Northwest’s defense doesn’thave its usual number of behemoths in the front line.

“They aren’t as big up front as they have been in the past butthey have some kids who can run. They are blitzing a lot more sincethe first game of the year. They blitzed Southwest a bunch andDelta a good bit.”

Davis said he saw some signs of improvement in Saturday’s 35-14loss to Pearl River. The Wolves had tied the game in the secondquarter 7-7 and led 14-7 in the third quarter on Rhodes’interception return. But the Wildcats responded with 4 unansweredtouchdown passes.

“We are capable of beating Northwest,” aid Davis. “We made somestrides in the front line. We have to keep getting better everyweek.”

Davis said injuries have slowed his team. Standout defensive endShadler Manning broke a bone in his foot during the season-openingwin at Holmes.

“We must get 100 percent healthy,” said Davis. “We have somedefensive linemen who are slowed by injuries. They’re doing thebest they can.”

Co-Lin freshman quarterback Beau Billeck completed 10 of 19passes for 104 yards against Pearl River. His 26-yard TD pass toDaryl Johnson tied the game 7-7 at halftime.

“Our quarterbacks turned the ball over three times,” said Davis.”We had a fumble apiece and an interception. We can’t afford thatagainst a good team.”

The Wolves had a 9-minute drive to start the game but it endedin a missed field goal. “That opening drive was encouraging,” saidDavis. “We just have to put it in the end zone.”

Wolf Tails: Co-Lin hasn’t played Northwestsince the 2000 campaign when the Rangers won the season opener 39-3at Wesson. Lincoln County native Herbert Davis, Jr. is in his firstyear as an assistant at Northwest, coaching the secondary.