The top JUCO teams from Texas and Mississippi will clash this weekend at the Heart of Texas Bowl in Copperas Cove.
Northwest Mississippi Community College brings a 9-2 record and No. 5 national ranking into the game against the Cardinals of No. 4 Trinity Valley Community College (10-1).
TVCC has 82 players on its 85-man roster who played high school ball in Texas, including quarterback Michael Curtis, who starred at Prime prep Academy in Richardson. Curtis has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,182 yards and 23 touchdowns with just three picks on the season.
The Cardinals have a stable of running backs in the spread formation who have accounted for most of TVCC’s 2,920 rushing yards. Cedric Battle (Wichita Falls Hirschi), Adam Berryman (Gainesville), Le’Vonte Owens (Waco Robinson) and Khalil Banks (The Colony) have flourished behind the big offensive line.
Jalen Guyton (Allen) is the top receiver with 43 catches and 938 yards with 12 touchdowns. Anthony Turner (Las Vegas, Nev.), Damontes Dowell (Malakoff), Phillip Baptiste (Copperas Cove), Tony Mullins (Katy) and Travier Jackson (Red Oak) give Curtis plenty of weapons.
Freshman Blake Stephenson (Deer Park) leads TVCC with 101 tackles and nine sacks. Sophomore linebacker Da’Quan Patton (Cedar Park Vista Ridge) has 82 tackles and an interception. Sophomore defensive back Devante Thomas (Denton Ryan) leads the team with four interceptions, including two pick sixes.
Trinity Valley’s only setback this season was a 30-29 loss to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the third game of the season. The Cardinals have since won eight straight games, including a revenge 48-40 win over Northeastern Oklahoma in the SWJCFC semifinals.
Had TVCC been undefeated, they most likely would have played in the NJCAA national championship, which is a match up of the top two teams.
One quarterback at NWCC is redshirt sophomore Clay Holgorsen, who played his high school ball at Katy Taylor before going to Memphis. He’s the only Texan on the roster of the Rangers. Holgorsen has passed for 1,566 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday at Bulldawg Stadium. The NJCAA national championship will be Saturday between No. 1 Garden City (Kan.) against No. 2 Arizona Western at the El Toro Bowl in Yuma, Ariz.
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