No. 14 GMC Football Ready To Make A Run At 2015 NJCAA Title
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia Military College football team found itself in some unfamiliar territory as the 2014 season came to a close in December – at home, not in a bowl game and not in the hunt for a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship.
But the 2015 campaign brings a renewed spirit and drive to return to the lofty status that is familiar to the GMC football program and Bulldogs’ fans everywhere.
GMC went 6-4 last season and it was a rollercoaster ride as the Bulldogs had two three-game winning streaks to go along with a pair of two-game slides. But GMC locked up a winning season on November 9 as the Bulldogs knocked off Lackawanna College (Pa.) 20-8 and sent head coach Bert Williams off the field in Huntington, W.Va., as the College’s all-time winningest coach.
Williams notched career win No. 119 and surpassed Lew Cordell, who coached from 1936-58, as GMC’s leader in victories. Williams, who is entering his 16th year as GMC’s head coach and 19th overall on the Bulldogs’ sideline, now owns a 119-41 career record with the Bulldogs that includes the 2001 NJCAA national championship and 15 straight winning seasons.
GMC, which comes into this season ranked No. 14 in the NJCAA preseason poll, may find the schedule a little friendlier in 2015. The Bulldogs make five trips instead of six in 2014 when they logged nearly 9,000 miles to play games in Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, New York and West Virginia (twice).
This year, GMC will travel twice to Texas and make one trip each to Virginia, West Virginia and Florida. But five ranked opponents, including No. 15 Navarro College (Texas) in the season-opener on August 22 in a 1 p.m. contest at historic Davenport Field, make the schedule a challenge.
GMC will also tangle with No. 5 Nassau Community College (N.Y.), No. 11 Tyler Junior College, No. 13 Kilgore College and No. 17 ASA College (N.Y.). Lackawanna College (Pa.) also received votes, but did not crack the Top 20.
“The 2015 season looks to be another great challenge for our team with a slate of highly-ranked opponents on the schedule once again,” GMC head coach Bert Williams said. “The good news for our young team is that we will have the best home stand we have enjoyed in a long time with games vs. Navarro, (College of) DuPage, Nassau and Arkansas Baptist College on the home schedule as well as regional opponents Middle Georgia State and Jireh Prep, a very successful post-grad program from North Carolina.
“It will be important for us to get off to a good start and if we can find a way to do that, I think we will have a chance at a very good season.”
Offensively, GMC averaged just over 40 points-per-game (16th nationally) and 4,250 yards of total offense (also 16th nationally) in 2014 and some important pieces return this year.
Quarterback Tyler Herman (6-4, 210) returns to lead the GMC offense after completing 142 passes in 264 attempts for 2,183 yards, 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions last season. Herman also ran for four TDs.
GMC will also turn to running back Jordan Brown (5-10, 180), who rushed for 525 yards on 72 carries and found the end zone five times in 2014. Tresvon Coakley (6-1, 220) came on strong in the second half of last year and picked up 286 yards on 64 attempts with six TDs.
“Offensively, we return more experience than on defense, but it is still not a huge amount as compared to other years,” Williams said. “Tyler Herman returns at starter at the QB position and that is a tremendous help for us. He also has the benefit of two returning running backs in Jordan Brown and Tresvon Coakley, who proved themselves last year.”
The Bulldogs should be solid up front with three offensive linemen garnering preseason honors in Akeem Cooperwood (6-7, 335), Jaylen Fareed (6-2, 310) and Omar Staley (6-5, 285). This trio combined for 28 games played in 2014 and will be counted on to anchor the GMC front wall.
“We have some experience on the offensive line with Akeem Cooperwood, Jaylen Fareed, Omar Staley and Charles Brenner,” Williams said. “The biggest challenge offensively is getting an almost totally new group of receivers and tight ends together on the same page and developing a strong group of freshmen skill players.”
On defense, GMC allowed just 19.4 points-per-game (12th nationally) and allowed 10 points or less on five different occasions. The Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the nation by coming up with 18 fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions. The GMC defense also sacked the opposing quarterbacks 33 times in 2014 and will need that kind of production again this season.
Kalan Ritchie (6-5, 245) will solidify the defensive front while Brenten Wimberly (6-1, 215) will be a force at linebacker for GMC. Meanwhile, Devontae Freeman (5-10, 185) and David Mims (6-1, 200) will be counted on in the Bulldogs’ secondary.
“Defensively, we have the youngest group we have ever had in my time at GMC, though I am excited about the talent level and the work ethic of our young bunch,” Williams said. “Kalan Ritchie saw some good action last year at defensive end and Mike Parrish saw a good bit of action at nose guard, but the rest of the front will be new to our scheme. Brenten Wimberly returns as the lone starting and most productive member at linebacker and Devontae Freeman brings the most experience to the secondary, though he is starting at another position.
“We have a lot of young talented players. The key will be how fast they grow up, learn the system and bring it on game days.”
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