CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: CAVEND

HED:Northeast hopes to bounce back

By Kevin Cavender

Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE Losing back-to-back division games by scores of 41-8 and 42-13 would seemingly leave any coach depressed.

But Northeast Community College coach Laurin Collins sees a vast difference in his team's effort in last week's loss to Northwest as compared to the Holmes debacle of the previous Thursday. The Tigers look to carry that same intensity coupled with better execution into today's game with East Mississippi.

"We had a total team breakdown against Holmes and couldn't imagine how the kids could play like that after a big win," Collins said. "But we felt like the kids played better last week against Northwest. We played hard, they just have some skill people that are hard to manage and are just better than we are. "

"But regardless of all that, we don't ever like to lose."

Northeast (1-5 overall, 1-2 division) will be looking for a Homecoming victory today at 7 p.m. when the East Mississippi Lions (2-4 overall, 1-2 division) travel to Keenum Stadium. Northeast won its only game of the 1996 season on Homecoming against Coahoma.

Northeast's sluggish offense is ranked last out of 14 junior college squads and could be without the services of starting quarterback Antonio Kirkpatrick who suffered a turned ankle against Northwest and is questionable. Backup Stephen Enfinger could start or see considerable playing time.

"Tony's got so much he can do that when we lose him we lose a lot of our offense," Collins said. "But we just don't know right now whether he'll play or not. Enfinger has played a little and has done a good job for us."

Northeast fullback Jason Meeks (6'0", 200) of Corinth has picked up some of the offensive load and ran 23 yards for a touchdown last Thursday against the Rangers in Senatobia.

"He ran hard the whole game and had that big run for us," Collins said. "He was a big part of our offense that did the only thing we could do run right at 'em."

East Mississippi coach Tom Goode brings his Lions into Booneville coming off last week's shutout of Coahoma and expecting a close game.

"Northeast has played well this year, especially on defense and this is their Homecoming," Goode said. "We just hope we can compete since we're not exactly where we'd like to be."

The Lions run what Goode calls a "really multiple" offense and which has sputtered at times, in large part due to losing so many sophomores off last year's squad.

"We just had to replace so many people, really our entire offense," Goode said. "It has just taken them a while to find some cohesion."

East Mississippi will bring a quarterbacking tandem of Surhaver Fair and Jason Franklin and two solid tailbacks in Tywone Dyson and Carl Fair. Defensively, the Lions sport linebacker Michael Bailey and defensive tackles Todd Whitmore and Casey Anderson.

"East is an explosive ball club and they've lost some games simply because they've been outscored," Collins said. "We just have to find a way to score points some way or another and not turn the ball over."

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