By ROB LUDWIG / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
After not appearing in bowl game for 13 years, it would be easy to say Hinds ( Miss.) CC is a bit hungry for its matchup with perennial powerhouse Navarro.
Hinds (7-2) finished the regular season ranked 14th in the country, two slots above Navarro (8-3). The teams meet in the second annual Brazos Valley Bowl at noon Saturday at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan.
Don’t let Hinds’ record and failure to make the Mississippi playoffs fool you. The Eagles are an extremely talented team that rose as high as No. 8 in the country before losing 41-34 to No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast. After losing the next week to highly touted Copiah Lincoln, the Eagles went on a five-game winning streak to end the season. Among that string of victories was a 24-20 win over Jones County, which eventually played in the Mississippi championship game.
“(Hinds) is a talented program,” said Navarro coach Brian Mayper. “They beat Jones and they ended up playing for the conference championship. Hinds is going to be a very tough opponent.”
Hinds features an impressive offensive line that features several Division I recruits, a fast receiving corps and talented dual-threat quarterback James Summers.
Summers makes the Hinds offensive productive either with his running skill or deft passing to receivers Keithon Redding and Robert Lockhart, who combined for 54 receptions, 11 touchdowns and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch.
Summers was 89 of 183 for 1,401 yards and 12 TDs this season and added 572 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
“They run some option stuff that really puts you in a bind when (Summers) has a chance to pull it and get downfield,” Mayper said. “They’ve also got receivers who’ve made a ton of plays this season.”
Hinds runs an attacking 4-2-5 defense that features first team all-Mississippi cornerback Kenya Dennis, a Missouri commit who had one pickoff, 25 solo tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries this season.
Linebacker Joseph Harris also was a first-team pick in Mississippi and led the Eagles with 104 tackles, including 63 solo stops.
“They are really good defensively,” Mayper said. “They roll a few guys in there and their two linebackers are really good. They are a pretty impressive defense.”
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they’ll have everyone back in the lineup this week. Speedy receiver Devin Lauderdale, who sat out the conference championship game with a concussion, will be return and hopefully for the Bulldogs reconnect with quarterback Josh Greer.
The two haven’t played together since the fourth game of the season when Greer went down with a broken collarbone. Greer returned for the title game to complete 20 of 38 passes for 254 yards and two scores.
The weather at game-time could be a factor in both teams’ passing attacks, but if it’s just a cold rain, that shouldn’t bother the Bulldogs.
Navarro has played in three rain-soaked games this season and feature one of the nation’s best ground attacks paced by SWJCFC Offensive MVP Tim Wright (1,566 yards, 23 TDs).
“The weather is what it is,” Mayper said. “We’ve played in those three rain games, so we know what to expect. We’ll just dress a little warmer and play the best we can possibly play against a quality opponent.”