September 2, 2010 9:52:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Jon Williams wants to see how much his players have invested in this season.
The first-year Itawamba Community College football coach will get to see how much his players have "bought in" to his system at 7 tonight when his team plays host to Hinds C.C.
Williams, who worked the past three seasons as an assistant coach to Jeff Terrill, stressed a new atmosphere and a new mentality when he took over as head coach. He likes how the Indians have responded in the preseason and hopes the team will strengthen that chemistry throughout the season to erase the memory of a 3-6 finish in 2008 and a 2-7 mark last season.
"I think the guys have done just an awesome job of really understanding what we as coaches want," Williams said. "I think they have bought in 100 percent to what were talking about and what we want to do. I think they have just done a phenomenal job of doing everything thing we have asked them to do without hesitation."
Williams feels his team is as prepared as it can be for its opener tonight. The Indians will feature a healthy does of players from the Greater Golden Triangle area who will compete for playing time.
On offense, Williams said sophomore running back Evan Lackey, of Amory, and freshman wide receiver Erik Buchanan likely will get the most repetitions. He said Lackey, who led the team with 215 rushing yards last year, is a "lead-by-example" player, while Buchanan, a former standout at Aberdeen High, has made great strides in his few months at the school.
"Erik Buchanan is a really good player who will do great things for us," Williams said. "He is definitely one of the guys we talk about each day in staff meetings. He is just a game-changer. He is big, physical, fast, strong mentally, and he can make plays. I would say he might be the most complete receiver we have on our team."
On defense, Williams will look for sophomore defensive linemen Anthony Coleman, of Columbus High, and Jimmie Williams, of East Oktibbeha County High, to contribute. He said Williams is more of a vocal leader who will look to get his teammates fired up.
Coleman is in his third season with the program. Williams said the former Falcon has matured and will be counted on to provide valuable maturity.
Sophomore Tevin Blanchard will help to anchor the secondary.
Freshman kicker Will Goodwin is "the kicker," according to Williams. He said he has been impressed with how well the former Starkville Academy standout has adjusted from high school to playing football and soccer at ICC.
Former Starkville High standouts Justin Rogers and Perez Young and former Aberdeen High standout likely will compete for playing time on special teams.
Former Aberdeen High standout Decedrick Quinn also will vie for action at linebacker.
n On Wednesday sophomore defensive back Darius Slay, who was named preseason All-MACJC by the Mississippi Gridiron Magazine earlier this month, has been named to the JC Grid-Wire preseason All-American second team.
The Mississippi State commitment, who is a graduate of Brunswick High School in Georgia, recorded 41 tackles, 36 solo, with two and a half tackles for loss and three interceptions last season.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.