MILLEDGEVILLE — Climbing the rankings all season long, Georgia Military College tops the National Junior College Athletic Association for the first time this week as the team looks to take on Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa Saturday.
With much buzz around campus and throughout the community this week surrounding the Bulldogs’ first place ranking, head coach Bert Williams believes his guys have remained focus on the task at hand — pulling off a win against Ellsworth this weekend.
“We just try to get them focused like we’ve done all year,” Williams said. “We’ve built a bond that’s allowed us to do some things that are special this year. We don’t really want to change anything.”
The GMC squad has spent the past three days tweaking its plan with hopes of shutting down the Panthers on both sides of the ball this weekend.
“Defensively, they give us more scheme issues than they do offensively,” Williams said. “They bring six-man pressure probably 90 percent of the time, so we’ve had to make some run game changes to give us the best opportunity to run the football how we want to against them.”
On the other side of the football, GMC’s defense will be challenged as well, with the Panthers’ spread offense.
After wrapping up five tackles last week against Iowa Western Community College with two interceptions, two pass break-ups, a tackle for loss and an interception return for a touchdown, Corey Neely was named NJCAA defensive player of the week. The Bulldogs will look to Neely and the rest of the defense to defend against Ellsworth’s offensive attack.
“Offensively, they’re going to spread it out and challenge us with the thing that has challenged us most the last couple years,” Williams said.
GMC, a team that has not had an off-week yet this season, will also be challenged with its conditioning, as the Bulldogs look to add number seven to the win column this weekend.
“One thing we have changed starting last week is shorten it by a few minutes. One thing it’s hard to remember is these guys have been going full-core for the last six weeks without a break,” Williams said. “I think that job coach [Brian] Hill did in the off-season in conditioning was pretty good and helped these guys get through these six weeks. As we get more into the year, we just have to be more mindful of how much contact we’re getting.”
The Bulldogs and Panthers will face off Saturday with the opening kickoff slated for 1 p.m. Central time.