Co-Lin Wolves eager to hit the field

Published 7:28 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolves walked off the field in Stone Stadium last season with a 4-5 record after falling to Pearl River Community College in the final game of the year. This record, however, was not indicative of the players grit, talent, and overall play that will hopefully never be lost in the passing of time.

Co-Lin’s head coach, Glenn Davis, is entering his 15th year at the helm of the Wolves, the longest-serving head coach in the college’s illustrious football history and longest-serving head coach in the MACJC. He looks to feed off those results from last season and to light a fire under this team in 2018.

“The thing about last season is that we were in most of those games that we lost, we would try to push through, but things would always get away from us,” said Davis. “We were a couple of plays away from being 7-2 and in the playoffs, we just always hurt ourselves. That’s what we are challenging our guys with this year. Play smart and execute like we know they are capable of, if you don’t, you will lose to teams that you should beat.”

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The Wolves offensive attack was balanced last season with 1,477 passing yards and 1,663 rushing yards, and things will be the same in 2018. Co-Lin has two powerhouse running backs coming out of the backfield in sophomores Deion Dampier (Pinola) and Rico Owens (Greenwood). The duo racked up 965 rushing yards as freshmen with Dampier gaining 560 yards on 116 carries and Owens totaling 405 on 77 attempts.

“It always helps to have experienced guys in the backfield,” said Davis. “Both of these guys have dropped some weight in the offseason like we asked and we expect a big improvement from this pair. They are also both solid kids that are great players.”

Hayden Davis (Madison) looks to be taking the snaps at quarterback after getting some playing time as a freshman in 2017. Davis, a Madison-Ridgeland Academy graduate, was 14-for-32 last season in the air for 148 yards.

“Hayden is another guy that has improved over the offseason and dropped some weight,” Davis said. “He has become much more mobile and his accuracy has improved.”

The Wolves also picked up Conner Mire (Natchez), a Cathedral High School graduate that played at Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga, California last season. As a freshman, Mire was 120-for-216 and racked up 1,397 passing yards and eight touchdowns through eight games for the Panthers.

Providing targets for Davis and Mire is a host of talented receivers that all look to have breakout seasons. DeMartre Collins was Co-Lin’s go-to receiver last season as he hauled in 19 passes. The speedy wideout posted 180 yards in the air and also led the team with 19 kick returns for 539 yards. Jalen Browder is another sophomore receiver who hauled in 18 receptions for 217 yards last season.

“Collins is probably our most explosive guy coming back,” Davis mentioned. “Browder has gotten much stronger and we are hoping he can finish off some plays like we know he has the ability to do. We also have several talented freshmen joining the wide receiver corps in Malik Heath, Kundarrious Taylor, and several others.”

Another target that has made some noise in the off-season is the sophomore tight end T.K. McClendon. Look for McClendon to be utilized a lot more in the passing attack this season.

“McClendon has drastically improved,” Davis noted. “He is a physical guy already, but his route running and ball skills have gone way up.”

Protecting the quarterback and creating running lanes for the Wolves’ talented backfield is an offensive front filled with experience. Co-Lin has upwards of seven offensive linemen returning for their sophomore season and all have made big improvements from a year ago.

“All of our linemen that are returning know what to expect and there is always an improvement from these guys’ freshman to sophomore years in this league,” said Davis. “Pair that with our running back’s ability to provide pass protection and we will have a great offensive front.”

Defensively the Wolves have become a powerhouse in the MACJC over the past several years. Last season Co-Lin led the league giving up just 273.8 yards per game including a staggeringly low 103 pass yards per game and were second in points allowed with 20.7 per game. The Wolves wrapped up 35 sacks on the year as well.

“We have a nice mix of freshman and sophomores on our defensive front this season,” said Davis. “We picked up several talented guys and they are coming in to help us make teams one dimensional by stuffing the run. We look to be talented enough and big enough to do that this year.”

The Wolves also return some key players from last year like Swayze Bozeman (Flora) who had 42 tackles on the year, second-most on the team, and Jakaiszer Glass (Greenwood) who wrapped up 29 tackles.

“These guys are going to be leaders on defense,” Davis said. “They will continue to grow and our linebackers are also very talented and can really run so look for that group to be all over the field.”

Joining the Wolves in 2018 are longsnapper Conner Goodin (Maben) and kicker/punter Ashton Garner (Ocean Springs) on special teams. The duo looks to continue Co-Lin’s history of solid special teams performances.

Co-Lin opens the 2018 season with two road trips for the second year in a row with a trip to Goodman on Aug. 30 to take on Holmes followed by a haul to Booneville to face Northeast Mississippi Community College on Sept. 6, with both games starting at 6:30 p.m.

“Holmes has made some offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator changes since last year so we will be in the dark on some schemes,” said Davis. “Northeast has had a winning record for a while now, so these will be two big tests for us early on.”

The Wolves follow those games with a two-game homestand against Pearl River Community College on Sept. 13 and against Northwest Community College on Sept. 20 — both games kickoff at 7 p.m. On Sept. 27 Co-Lin faces Gulf Coast in Perkinston at 7 p.m. before traveling to Decatur to take on East Central on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

The Wolves are back in Stone Stadium in Wesson to face Hinds on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. before hitting the road for a final time on Oct. 20 as Co-Lin travels to Ellisville to face Jones County at 2 p.m. The Wolves then wrap up regular season play with a Homecoming match-up against Southwest in Wesson on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m.

“Playoffs are always the expectation for this program,” said Davis. “We’ve missed out for four years now and we are eager to get back in the hunt.”