Co-Lin goes for JuCo state championship

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 10, 2006

WESSON &8212; There is no greater story in sports than the great turnaround, and the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolfpack has been living the dream all season.

Co-Lin (8-2), which has quietly moved up to No. 8 in the national JuCo rankings, will host second-ranked Pearl River Community College (9-1) for the Mississippi state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday at H.L. Stone Stadium.

Head coach Glenn Davis, in his third year at the school, said the difference this year for a team which finished with only one win in each of his first two seasons had boiled down to things going right that have in the past gone wrong.

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&8220;Basically, this year just boils down to things falling in place for us,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;ve got a good group of kids. It&8217;s been a lot of hard work by them and by the coaches.

The state championship game will be Co-Lin&8217;s first postseason appearance in 15 years as they look for their first championship since 1985.

Co-Lin knocked off Pearl River Sept. 21 when the Wildcats were the top-ranked team in the nation by a score of 31-21.

Several former local stars now appear on the Co-Lin roster, and one of them, cornerback Jasper O&8217;Quinn of Meadville, who leads the team with three interceptions, said he was expecting nothing less than victories when he transferred from Delta State.

&8220;I didn&8217;t come in expecting to lose so I knew we&8217;d be here,&8221; O&8217;Quinn said. &8220;It&8217;s a good feeling. We have a chance to do something that hasn&8217;t been done in a long time.&8221;

Freshman safety Sa&8217;Mel Washington of Natchez said he was enjoying being part of a winning program after years of losing as part of the Natchez High Bulldogs.

&8220;I wasn&8217;t expecting us to get this far (at first), but when I came here I knew we would have a good team the first week,&8221; Washington said. &8220;It feels great to be on a winning team like this. Practice is more fun and more upbeat. It changes everything.&8221;

Davis said a shake-up had been needed during the offseason, but he was proud of the way his team and his staff handled it.

&8220;The state of the whole program hasn&8217;t been good,&8221; he said. &8220;It&8217;s kind of been a growing process. Any time you have change its difficult. We had to discipline some kids. Change is never easy.

&8220;Sometimes, you get in a situation where you play like people talk about you. But it&8217;s been a combination of a lot of things. We&8217;ve got a lot of the best kids in the district and some good kids from out of state to help. The coaching staff stayed together.&8221;

Anthony Chambliss of Fayette, a sophomore wide receiver, said the biggest difference had been the work the Wolfpack put in.

&8220;We&8217;ve worked harder,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;ve got players that want it. Most of the players have their mind on one goal &8212; winning.&8221;

Getting a state championship won&8217;t be easy against Pearl River, a team considered a favorite for a JuCo national championship, but Davis and the players are confident it can be done.

&8220;We&8217;re both playing for a lot,&8221; he said. &8220;They have a lot of tremendous athletes. I don&8217;t know that anybody really matches up well against them. There are things we can do to give them problems and things they can do to give us problems. The big thing is not turning the ball over and keeping their offense off the field.&8221;

&8220;We feel pretty confident that we can beat them,&8221; Washington said. &8220;We&8217;ve just got to stick to the game plan and do what it takes, because they want it just like we want it.&8221;

&8220;It&8217;s going to be a tough game,&8221; Chambliss said. &8220;I believe we can beat them. We already did it once.&8221;