Laurel RT Bender boosts Bobcats

Written By: Shawn Wansley
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Date Submitted: 2010-09-15 14:55:02

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – Brandon Bender realizes offensive linemen may not get recognized as much as some of the other players.

But the starting right tackle for the Jones County Junior College Bobcats knows the group plays a huge role when it comes to the success of a football team.

“At right tackle, you have got to think fast and have fast feet,” said Bender, a 6-foot -3, 285-pound sophomore from Laurel. “You have to be constantly moving and you cannot stop at all. It’s not a hard position to play, but the offensive line, as a whole, has to know what it’s doing.

“All five of us have got to communicate and tell everybody what is happening, so we can pick up all of the blitzes and stop the rush.”

Bender and his teammates will have to be on their game this week for sure.

The 1-1 Bobcats will host the 2-0 and second-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field. The Bulldogs have already beaten defending state champion East Mississippi, 40-21, and Mississippi Delta, 52-0, in their first two games.

“Gulf Coast is a pretty talented group,” said Bender. “But if we come out and play, we should do OK. We have a lot of talent, too.”

JCJC dropped a tough, 26-24 decision on the road to the Coahoma Community College Tigers last week.

But the Bobcat offense had several bright moments. Freshman quarterback Mitchell Brown threw for 248 yards, the team rushed for 201 yards and JCJC racked up 449 yards of total offense.

Bender, however, knows the team must improve.

“The running game and passing game did all right last week,” he said. “We had almost 450 total yards, so we did pretty good. But as a team, we need to come together.

“We are trying to kick it up a notch. We had some mistakes last week that should not have been made. We should get those corrected this week and take it to them Saturday.”

Bender said having a year of experience under his belt is critical in the MACJC. He said the veteran Bobcat line knows they must perform well each week if the team expects to achieve any success.

“I know what is going on and I know the system,” he said. “It’s much easier than last year. I have tried to help the freshmen a lot because I know how they feel coming in here.

“This is the best group I have ever played with. If we can come together, we can put everyone on our shoulders, take this team to the top and win it all.”

Bender came to JCJC from Laurel, which is just a few miles away from campus. He said it’s been a comfortable fit since the beginning.

“It’s almost like being at home,” he said. “I am not too far from home, so I take some these out-of-staters home with me when I can. I know they miss their families, so we try to help them.”

Bender has received numerous letters and inquiries from senior colleges in regards to where he would like to continue his education. He said he has plenty of time to decide what he wants to do.

“I am not really locked into anybody right now,” he said. “I am keeping my options open. I know a lot of schools will really come looking towards the end of the season. But the season will be over before you know it.”

For the moment, the South Division opener vs. Gulf Coast is at the top of the list for Bender. After two long road trips to Mississippi Delta and Coahoma, Bender is looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd this weekend.

“You just can’t lose at home,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”

Fans can watch Saturday’s game live at with Lance Pittman on the call and Mark Easley providing commentary. The game will be broadcast on the “Bobcat Radio Network” on WGDQ-FM, 93.1, and on WOSM-FM, 103.1. Airtime is 6:30 p.m.


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