It was the season that wasn’t. The Mississippi Delta Community College Trojans fell to 0-4 in the COVID-afflicted season. Their 44-6 road loss to highly-ranked Northwest Community College actually was the last game of the season. A Trojan player tested positive this past Saturday and the upcoming game with Holmes Community College was canceled thus ending the season.
Trojan Head Coach Jeff Tatum explained the situation.
“It’s over, we had to shut it down. We had a guy on offense test positive for COVID Saturday morning and because we were on the same bus, they quarantined the whole offense,” he said. “So, we’re done until 2021.”
In taking on the always tough Rangers of Northwest, Coach Tatum, his staff and players knew there was little room for error.
“Anytime you play a good football team you can’t make any mistakes,” Coach Tatum said. “Right before halftime, we had a punt get blocked when they were only leading 17-6. That took all the momentum away from us. We felt if we made it to the half only down 17-6, we knew we had the ball for the beginning of the second half. But that block (inside the 20) and they scored with less than a minute left in the half. That was huge and the biggest play in the whole game.”
With the loss, the Trojans dropped to 0-4, while Northwest moved to 5-0 and claimed the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) North division championship.
In the game, Northwest scored first, 7-0 with 7:58 left in the first quarter when Michael Hiers found Jaquerrious Williams on an 80-yard touchdown strike. Tucker Barefoot added the PAT.
The Trojans cut the Ranger lead to 7-6 when MDCC quarterback Freddie Byrd connected with Lorenzo Perez on a 38-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed but the lead was now just one with 3:26 in the first quarter.
The Rangers moved ahead 23-6 at halftime after a Jamie Shaw touchdown run, Barefoot field goal and Hiers to Keyon Fordham touchdown pass.
Hiers threw his third touchdown of the night to D.T. Sheffield with 7:11 to go in the third quarter. The 51-yard strike and the ensuing Barefoot PAT put Northwest up 30-6 at this point.
Randy Anderson added a rushing touchdown with 1:43 in the third quarter, and Kenyatta Harrell had a two-yard run to close the scoring with 7:54 left in the contest.
Byrd finished the evening 15-25 for 109 yards and one touchdown through the air. Treveon Miles and LaDarius Moore led the way with five receptions apiece.
Stemarion Edwards led the Trojans defense with 10 tackles on the evening. Kevin Green had eight tackles of his own.
The Trojans final game of the 2020 football season was supposed to happen yesterday against Holmes Community College. But COVID-19 hit the Trojans, the game was canceled and the 2020 season for the Trojans ended as well.
"After consultation with our administration, training staff and coaches, we made the decision to wrap up the 2020 season," said MDCC athletic director Dan Rives. "Our primary concern this whole time has been the safety of our student-athletes and coaches, and with a number of our players being affected by this through contact tracing, it was in our best interest to put the health of our players and those from Holmes at the forefront."
Due to the revised Fall 2020 schedule, the final day of classes at MDCC was Wednesday, so the Trojans will be off campus for a lengthy period of time before the start of the Spring semester in January 2021.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we've taken this action to continue to protect our student-athletes, coaches, fans and administrators," Mississippi Association of Community College Conference (MACCC) Commissioner Steve Martin said.
Looking ahead, Coach Tatum notes the cycle of JUCO football is that you lose half of the team and are constantly rebuilding. He noted even with COVID restrictions, his coaching staff has done a remarkable recruiting job using technology and the prospective Trojans have eagerly participated as well.
“Normally, we start (training) right after Thanksgiving but school is shut down and will be back in January. We’ll pick up our off-season conditioning then,” Coach Tatum said. “Recruiting is going real well. We were able to get back out last week and talk to kids. With those kids being young they understand this wave of electronics. We have more commitments now than we’ve ever had. Another good thing is our coaches are from different areas, so we are able to spread out all over the state.”
The Trojans will have a good deal of experience coming back.
“We feel real good about our guys who are returning. On our offensive line, we started four freshmen. On defense our two inside linebackers are both freshmen and they did a really good job, especially at the end of the year with leadership. We feel like the future is bright at Mississippi Delta Community College.”