HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The sun was just beginning to rear its head on Monday morning in Perkinston, but all the hubbub around A.L. May Memorial Stadium made it seem as if a football game was about to kick off.
Rather, a host of Bulldog fans were seeing their Mississippi Gulf Coast football team depart for Pittsburg, Kansas and the NJCAA national championship.
The No. 1 Bulldogs (11-0) battle No. 2 Lackawanna (10-0) on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State.
MGCCC has spent nearly a month preparing for the Falcons after winning its 16th MACJC title on November 9. Lackawanna leads the nation in interceptions (28) and scoring defense, yielding just 11.2 points per game.
Gulf Coast’s defense – known as “The Regulators” – allows just 12.3 points per game. However, the Falcons fly into Kansas with the NJCAA’s second-ranked scoring offense (45.5 points per game).
After leading Northwest Mississippi to the 2015 national championship, MGCCC head coach Jack Wright has the opportunity to become just the second coach to win NJCAA titles at two different schools.
Mississippi Gulf Coast is a storied program, crowned champions in 1948, 1971, 1984 and 2007. The 2019 Bulldogs are proud to again represent the state of Mississippi on the national stage.
“It’s been an amazing season,” said Gulf Coast sophomore running back Austin Bolton. The Poplarville native leads the team with 771 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
“We’ve worked hard for this since the summer. We’ve been talking about this. We were like, ‘We need to go 11-0 and win it all.’ To see it come true and come together, we’re going to go down there and win it for the fans.”
“It feels great,” said Gulf Coast sophomore defensive end Tijuane Bolton, a Perry Central graduate. “We had worked so hard to make it to the national championship and to the state title.”
“There’s a lot of things that it represents,” Wright said. “Representing Mississippi is one of them. These kids are representing their family, their own playing career, all their hard work they’ve put in at Gulf Coast. It represents a lot, just pleased to be able to go up there and play.”