AROUND THE SQUARE AND BEYOND: Northwest Mississippi Community College football coach Ricky Woods wants to win an MACJC state title in the worst way, but he needs the help of area players, and district players, to help him do it. The Rangers finished the 2010 season with a 9-1 overall mark, but a 52-24 loss to Gulf Coast last Saturday at Bobby Franklin Field was not the ending Woods was hoping for.The Rangers, who were ranked as high as No. 4 in the country this season, appear to have regained the prominence that was established in the 1980s and 1990s under the direction of former Ole Miss standout Bobby Franklin. Woods’ hiring breathed life back into the program from a local interest standpoint, while Woods’ ability to mix and match talent has improved the team each season to the point that he feels like his program is close to winning a state title.
“What we need to be a state championship caliber team at Northwest is for our district kids to come to us. That’s what they can help us the most,” Woods said. “We’re very close to where we need to be. If our kids will come to us, we’ll do what we’re supposed to do here. We just need to them to come and be a Ranger.”
The 2010 season was one of Woods’ most enjoyable in his 29 years of coaching. That includes stops at Ackerman and South Panola, schools he won state championships at. Recruiting is his main focus currently and that includes coming up with a protection list that is due on Dec. 15 and then working to convince players that NWCC is the school they need to attend all the way through National Signing Day on Feb. 2. Woods only gets to protect 22 players each year from all the schools in 11 counties that include Lafayette, Yalobusha, DeSoto and Panola, just to name a few.
“The Mississippi kids are the ones we need to get. Defensive and offensive line, you really, really need them all in your district and it’s hard to get them all,” Woods said about the most important need areas. “Recruiting in junior college football is about getting positions. You have to protect those players in the district, not always the best player, and sometimes people don’t understand that.”
Northwest’s roster will have some overhaul to deal with this season. Woods said the goal is to sign 35 players, with most coming from within the state. Players from out of state are added in the spring, but most come as they figure out which Mississippi players may not show up for summer practices.
Moore weighing options
A player that is currently in junior college but was at Ole Miss for a semester is Gulf Coast quarterback Clayton Moore. Moore had a huge impact for the Bulldogs in their win over the Rangers last Saturday in the MACJC playoffs. He finished the game with 244 yards passing and accounted for four touchdowns, with two coming on designed quarterback runs.
Moore, who was a walk-on for the Rebels last season, said he’s been in regular contact with four or five schools about his next step in college. That was the extent of what Moore wanted to say about where he might end up, but his ability to throw the deep ball, as well as be a dual threat with his legs, was clear against the Rangers and a defense that had done a good job of stopping people all season.
“I’m not saying this because this is the right thing to say, but I haven’t really thought about it,” Moore said about recruiting. “I know that’s the common answer but all I’m thinking about is East Mississippi or Co-Lin.”
Rebs getting started
Ole Miss opens its 2010-11 season Friday night at home against Arkansas State. There are several new players on this year’s roster for the Rebels, but one of their returnees, 6-9 forward Terrance Henry, has re-invented himself as well with extra weight and more strength he can use down low on opponents. Henry talked about his transformation as a player this year and how he hoped to help the Rebels.
“I was trying to do what Coach (Andy Kennedy) told me to do, get stronger in the weight room, work on my game more. I’ve been working on my post game a lot more so you’ll see me more on the block this year,” Henry said. “Coach is going to look for me to score more. Everybody is going to be keyed in on Chris (Warren). We need somebody else to step up more than just him and Zach (Graham).”
Henry said last year’s meeting with Kentucky, which featured the 6-11, 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins, was a game that showed Henry he had to add on to his 200-pound frame if he was going to be effective down low for the Rebels.
“That was one of those reality-check type games. That was one of those games that was telling me to gain more weight and get stronger. That’s why I put all the work in this summer,” Henry said about the UK game.
From Kennedy’s perspective, Henry’s weight increase should help everybody this year.
“He’s added some much needed weight and he’s gotten a lot stronger. If you saw his numbers from a strength standpoint when he first got here to now, it’s really astonishing. The job that our strength coach Matt Turner has done with him as been amazing,” Kennedy said. “Terrance has put in the work. During the offseason our guys are typically lifting three days, he’s lifting four. Now guys will pare it down to about two and he’ll lift three. He’s putting in the time because it’s harder for him to maintain weight. He’s going into his junior year and he’s been in some battles, some tight games and a lot of different situations. Now it’s up to him to expand his role and we need that. It’s an opportunity for him to continue to grow as a player and as a team, we need that growth. It’s a good formula.” (November 11, 2010, Page 8)