October 20, 2010 10:44:00 AM
Former Aberdeen High School football standout Tevin Blanchard has been studying football game films more often this season at Itawamba Community College to get a better idea of his squad''s weekly opponent.
There''s no secret Thursday night.
No. 18 Northeast C.C. will invade the Indians'' turf at 7 p.m. in a game with postseason consequences. Northeast (5-2, 4-1 region) is in second place in the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges/Region 23 standings -- a half-game ahead of ICC (4-3, 3-1 region), so the playoffs are at stake.
For Blanchard, a sophomore safety who leads the Indians in tackles with 28 solos and 15 assists, the game also includes college scouts who will be watching his play closely.
Northeast, which will be a tough graduation test, brings no surprises, Blanchard said.
"They like to run," said the 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore safety, who is The Dispatch''s College Player of the Week. "They are very physical."
First-year ICC coach Jon Williams agrees.
"This will not be a skill game; this will be physical," Williams said. "They play a lot of ''old-school'' football. This game will be in the trenches. This will be a big week, especially for the safeties. They''ll have to be physical and protect the running game as well as the passing game. They''ll have to be hybrid linebackers."
Williams will count on Blanchard, especially after seeing his progression on defense this season.
"I am really proud of (Blanchard)," Williams said. "He has taken a lot of ownership of the team this year. He is one of three guys who really lead the defense."
Williams said Blanchard''s recent work in the weight room and with the films will help him against Northeast.
"He''s been more physical," he said. "He has a nice build and a lot of upper-body strength. When he gets on the training table, it only works to help him."
Blanchard said his off-the-field work has him ready for Northeast.
"I''ve been watching the films, understanding the plays they run," Blanchard said. "Throughout the season, we all spend time in the weight room, so we''ll be ready."
Willliams said Blanchard has "found his identity on defense" with his other teammates in a learning situation with a rookie coach.
"They''ve bought into the system, with the new scheme, new coach, new defensive line coach," Williams said. "Against Holmes last week (a 33-20 ICC victory), we held them to 0-for-13 in third-down conversions. This week will be a different style of game, though."
1. Loss to Alabama helped MSU baseball re-focus COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Alabama softball team advances; Ole Miss eliminated COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Cohen brings home conference coach of year honors COLLEGE SPORTS