Northwest returns eight offensive and six defensive starters from last year’s squad that finished with a record of 6-4 and was runner-up in the MACJC north division.
Northwest opens the campaign Thursday, Aug. 27 by traveling to Perkinston to face No. 2 ranked Gulf Coast. Ranger fans can check out the squad Thursday, Aug. 20 when the team hosts its annual “Meet the Rangers” night at Bobby Franklin Field in Senatobia. The event starts at 7 p.m.
Northwest and Gulf Coast are two of six Mississippi teams that are ranked in the pre-season poll. East Mississippi checks in at No. 6, followed Pearl River at No. 11, and Jones County at No. 14.
The Rangers have high hopes this season under second-year Head Coach Ricky Woods.
There are several reasons for those expectations including the return of all five starters on the offensive line. They are tackles Justin Shaw of Bruce and Jake Paylor of Holly Springs, guards Cameron Wagner of Batesville and Cordarrius McMurry of Courtland, and center Willie Oliver of Courtland.
Once again, that group will asked to protect returning quarterback Casey Weston of Prattville, Ala. Weston was the state’s fourth-leading passer as a freshman by completing 204 of 354 attempts for 2,072 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Weston’s two favorite targets from a year ago are also coming back. They are receivers Marquise Green of Byhalia and Colton Barnett of Horn Lake.
Green led the Rangers last season with 34 catches for 544 yards and six touchdowns, while Barnett hauled in 23 receptions for 282 yards and two scores.
Northwest’s defense will revolve around the play of two returning stars in the secondary— cornerback Bud Barksdale of Batesville and strong safety V.J. Street of Senatobia.
Street led all Ranger defensive backs with 51 tackles last season, while Barksdale registered 34. Both Street and Barksdale tied for the team lead with two interceptions each.
Sophomore linebacker Timothy Kirk of Charleston is also expected to have a big season. Kirk was third on the team in tackles last year with 62, including five quarterback sacks, and 12 tackles for loss.