Natchez alums putting in work at Co-Lin

Published 6:19 pm Friday, November 26, 2021

WESSON — Natchez High School had four players represent the Bulldogs at Co-Lin Community College this fall.

James Singleton Jr. played wide receiver but battled injuries. Paul Hargrave is a sophomore quarterback for the Wolfpack. 

At the line of scrimmage, Devonta Stancel plays defensive line and often faced off with teammate and former Bulldog Josh Trask Jr. who is an offensive lineman. Stancel and Trask replied to requests for interviews.

Freshman offensive lineman Josh Trask Jr. said his first season at Co-Lin Community College went better than he thought it would. He thought he was not going to start when fall camp first started. 

Not only did he get plenty of playing time, he ended up starting nine games for the Wolfpack. His first game was against Northwest Mississippi Community College. He said he was nervous before the game but as the game and season went on he felt growth. 

“I was very nervous but after I got through the first drive it eased off a little bit,” Trask said. “I have gotten better physically and mentally as an athlete and as a person. Football helped change my mindset.  I became more focused on the bigger picture and I have a chance to make it out.” 

Trask’s father was a former Natchez football player. He died in a car wreck when Josh was 9-years old. His mom Critena Bass has always supported him and so has his aunt Quantonya Saul and uncle Octavius Saul. 

They have been watching him play football since pee-wee league and now they follow him around in college. Co-Lin’s game against Itawamba is the only game his mom, aunt and uncle could notattend, he said. 

“What motivates me to play football are my parents and my family,” Trask said. “I lost my father at an early age. It motivated me to help my momma out. She is a single parent.  They are at every game I play in.” 

In order to improve as a player, he said he needs to stay focused and to continue grinding to be better. Each day is a chance to get better and to improve, he said. The mindset of looking forward to the next thing helped him this season. 

As a player, he faced challenges when he had some tough games against Mississippi Gulf Coast, Hinds and East Mississippi Community College. Against MGCCC, he said he had a slow start. In Co-Lin’s games against Hinds and East, he had to take on really big players. 

His coaches stressed the importance of staying focused on the next drive. The mindset helped as he had good games against Northwest, Pearl River and Hinds Community College, he said. “I just stay faithful and trust the process,” Trask said. “There is a reason we do the things we do in the summer, to make it through fall camp and the season. If you trust in God and stay the process you will make it through.” 

Currently, Trask is studying to become a mechanical engineer. His dreams are to work until he can open up his own engineering business. Engineering combines his love for math and building things. 

Playing football at Co-Lin, he is teammates with former Bulldogs Stancel, Hargrave and Singleton. It has been fun to play with them again, he said. A lot of old memories come flooding back when they are on the field together. Stancel faces off with him in practice as he is a defensive lineman. 

“Stancel and I have had our share of battles at practice,” Trask Jr. said. “I remember one day we were going after each other and we must have ran into one of my teammates or something. We had to calm down. We were just trying to make each other better.” 

Stancel transferred from East Central Community College to Co-Lin this year. He played football at Natchez High School. 

This season, he has 20 tackles with .5 sacks. He said their season went good but they fell short in a couple of close games.He said he felt like he grew a lot as a player. His coaches taught him about how to go up against different blocking schemes. 

His battles with teammate Trask can be really intense, he said. 

“We battle it out everyday at practice, I make him better as a younger player,” Stancel said. “It is good to be back with him. One day we went so hard they had to pull us apart at practice. We are just really competitive.” 

A sophomore, Stancel hopes to play football at the next level as a JUCO transfer. This week he has talked to a few schools and he feels ready to make the move to the next level, he said. 

Co-Lin has been a part of his growth as a player because his coaches taught him concepts to prepare him for a senior college. This offseason, he said he will have to hit the weight room and focus on strength and conditioning. 

A business major, he already has a plan for life after football. 

“I want to one day have my own business and be a business owner,” Stancel said. “I would like to own a clothing business. I felt like if football doesn’t work out I could be good at business, but I’ll have to learn more about it.”