Collins High School's Owens anchors Bobcat defensive line

Written By: Shawn Wansley
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Date Submitted: 2010-09-08 13:29:46

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Mario Owens has a simple philosophy for the Jones County Junior College defensive line.

“The job of the defensive line is to step up and make big plays,” said Owens, a starting defensive tackle for the Bobcats. “When we are called to be on the field, we have to go out and do our thing. We have no excuses to make and we can’t make mistakes.”

Owens, a 6-foot, 290-pound sophomore from Collins High School, and his teammates fared quite nicely in last week’s opener.

Head coach Eddie Pierce’s 11th-ranked Bobcats did not allow a touchdown as they rolled to a 34-3 victory over Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead. JCJC allowed just 80 yards rushing on 40 attempts and 228 yards of total offense.

Owens said the Bobcats had to adjust to what the Trojans were doing throughout the game. MDCC moved the ball inside the JCJC 10-yard line twice, but the Bobcats held them to just one field goal and blocked another attempt.

He said the Trojans did not do much different than what the Bobcats were expecting.

“It was more of a learning process,” he said. “Everything went pretty good as far as us making big plays, but we’ve got to get more on top of things. We let the ball roll downfield too much, but I think we can do better.

“Other than (Delta linemen) pulling, it was pretty much what we were expecting. I thought we were on top of everything, but we gave up too many yards. Like I say, the whole time out there it was just a learning process.  They moved the ball some, but all of a sudden, we were able to stop them.”

Owens, who had two tackles and one assist against Delta, said the Bobcats would face a different kind of challenge when they travel to Clarksdale to take on Coahoma Community College on Thursday evening.

He said the Tigers would throw the ball much more than Delta.

“It looks like Coahoma’s front line is pretty big,” Owens said. “They do a lot of passing, so our young secondary will have to step up. And we are going to have to get more of a pass rush to slow them down. But I believe we can take them.

“Delta pretty much ran it every play, but Coahoma will throw it a lot.”

Owens is one of five returning sophomores along the Bobcat defensive front. He realizes big things are expected out of that group, which includes himself, tackles Jo’nal White and McKenzie Moffett and ends Ryan Robinson and Josh Herring.

“We work hard in practice, so we should be able to execute in the game,” he said. “We’ve got myself, Jo’nal and Ryan and ‘Preacher Man’ Josh Herring, another sophomore, coming back. I understand why Coach Pierce expects big things out of us.”

Owens said there is nothing like having a year of experience when playing in the MACJC. He said the sophomores are familiar with what to expect and try to pass that information to the freshmen the best way they can.

“As far as learning the plays, you pretty much have everything down when you are a sophomore,” he said. “You’ve been here a whole year, so there is no reason for you to mess up on a play. As far as conditioning goes, you’ve been through the hottest summers and the coldest winters.  So, there are no surprises and everything is good.

“We had some leaders on defense last year and I learned from them. We had some guys who would speak up in the lockerroom and then go out and execute on the field. Now, we are trying to lead these young players in the right direction. We are doing it all for the team.”

The Bobcats are perennial playoff contenders in the South Division and Owens said the team realizes that.

“Expectations are always high,” he said. “Just the name ‘Jones’ can get you into a lot of places. Jones County Junior College has been known to be the best and that’s what we are used to around here. Hopefully, we can take it all the way this year. We plan on going for a national championship.”

It’s still early in the 2010 season, but Owens realizes he will be leaving Jones soon. He is hopeful of playing senior college football, but is currently keeping his options open at the moment.

“I am the type of person who does not complain too much,” he said. “I am trying to go to a senior college and get my education, but football will always be second in my life. Education comes first. Every time my hand is on the ball and there is a snap, I look at it like I’m trying to make everything better for my son.

“I’ve gotten a few letters here and there. I’ve gotten some phones calls, too, but I am not letting it get to my head. But my season is not over until December.”

Owens is the proud father of a 9-month son, Mario Jr. He wants to continue his education, so he can provide for his son.

“He is the greatest thing in my life right now,” Owens said of his son. “I have to keep doing what I’m doing for him because a man is not supposed to run away from his responsibilities. I consider it a blessing right now.”

Owens came to JCJC from Collins, just a 30-mile trip from campus. He is grateful to have numerous family and friends on hand at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field when the Bobcats take the field.

“My family is here every game, supporting me,” Owens said. “They scream my name out a lot. My grandma goes up in the stands, even though it’s tough on her because of her knees, but she will be screaming, ‘That’s my baby!’ I am thankful for them because they have my back and they give me a lot of support.

“But, it’s a whole different thing coming from high school to college. It’s something you have to adapt to and something you have got to do.”

Kickoff for Thursday’s game between the Bobcats and Coahoma will be at 6:30 p.m. The game will air (audio only) on and on WGDQ-FM, 93.1, with Lance Pittman on play-by-play and Mark Easley providing commentary. Airtime is 6 p.m.


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