The 2013 NJCAA Football National Championship will be decided on Sunday in Biloxi, Miss., when No. 1 ranked Georgia Military College takes on No. 2 East Mississippi Community College.
The GMC Bulldogs are searching for their second national junior college crown.
This year's championship game features former Augusta area high school standouts Tayari Thompson (Butler), DaVonte Lambert (Burke County) and Montez McGuire (N. Augusta), who have all made major contributions to the Bulldogs' 11-0 season and opportunity to play for a national title.
“These guys have played critical roles in our success,” Bert Williams, GMC head coach and athletic director, said. “We wouldn't be here without them.”
Other local players that have made an impact for GMC this season include: Zyrecus Letman (Lincoln County), Justin Day (South Aiken) and Blake Robbins (Silver Bluff).
Thompson has been an extremely affective blocking fullback for GMC's offense that totaled more than 5,000 yards through the regular season. The Bulldogs are the nation's top rushing offense.
The redshirt freshman enjoys his part of the offensive puzzle blocking for the nation's best running back Jovon Robinson.
“We've got the No. 1 back in JUCO,” Thompson said. “It feels good to be a part of that.”
GMC's fullback can't get to Mississippi fast enough.
“It's a wonderful thing to prepare for,” Thompson said. “This is my first championship game. You won't get another chance like it. I'm ready to play.”
As a team captain and one of the top recruits at his defensive end position, Lambert is heading to the University of Tennessee next fall.
GMC's commitment to personal conduct and accountability made the difference for the star D-lineman. He has 30 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and six sacks to date.
“This football program is the best that I've been in,” Lambert said. “It kind of kept me in the right mindset going into a big SEC school.”
For now, the national title game is the only thing in his vision. Lambert said the talented group remains focused during final practice and film preparation.
Practicing against one of the best offensive lines in the country doesn't hurt.
“They make us better each and every day,” Lambert said.
McGuire leads the Bulldogs receiving core and is a strong team leader. The sophomore caught 26 balls for 429 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season.
Having missed out on a state title at North Augusta High School, McGuire feels good to be in this championship position. It's about the group, not any one person.
“It's amazing. Last year we thought we had it, but this year we came in with the mentality that we always knew we'd be in this position,” he said. “We always come in as we instead of I.”
McGuire has heard enough about East Mississippi and wants to show the nation what GMC can do. Making sure everyone “has a nice shiny ring at the end of the day” sits above any future football goals for a talented crop, according to McGuire.
“We are going to miss each other, so we are enjoying this time,” the receiver said. “I'm going to keep everybody's heads right in making sure we are successful in winning a championship.”
The JUCO level fields unmatched talent at multiple positions. This championship game will undoubtedly feature future NCAA and maybe NFL stars.
Additional information about the bowl game can be found at www.mississippibowl.com and the game will be live webcast through http://www.njcaatv.com/bowlgames.