MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia Military College football team found itself in some unfamiliar territory as the 2014 season came to a close in December – at home, not in a bowl game and not in the hunt for a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship.
GMC went 6-4 last season and it was a rollercoaster ride as the Bulldogs had two three-game winning streaks to go along with a pair of two-game slides. But GMC locked up a winning season on November 9 as the Bulldogs knocked off Lackawanna College (Pa.) 20-8 and sent head coach Bert Williams off the field in Huntington, W.Va., as the College's all-time winningest coach.
GMC, which comes into this season ranked No. 14 in the NJCAA preseason poll, may find the schedule a little friendlier in 2015. The Bulldogs make five trips instead of six in 2014 when they logged nearly 9,000 miles to play games in Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, New York and West Virginia (twice).
GMC will also tangle with No. 5 Nassau Community College (N.Y.), No. 11 Tyler Junior College, No. 13 Kilgore College and No. 17 ASA College (N.Y.). Lackawanna College (Pa.) also received votes, but did not crack the Top 20.
"It will be important for us to get off to a good start and if we can find a way to do that, I think we will have a chance at a very good season."
Quarterback Tyler Herman (6-4, 210) returns to lead the GMC offense after completing 142 passes in 264 attempts for 2,183 yards, 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions last season. Herman also ran for four TDs.
"Offensively, we return more experience than on defense, but it is still not a huge amount as compared to other years," Williams said. "Tyler Herman returns at starter at the QB position and that is a tremendous help for us. He also has the benefit of two returning running backs in Jordan Brown and Tresvon Coakley, who proved themselves last year."
"We have some experience on the offensive line with Akeem Cooperwood, Jaylen Fareed, Omar Staley and Charles Brenner," Williams said. "The biggest challenge offensively is getting an almost totally new group of receivers and tight ends together on the same page and developing a strong group of freshmen skill players."
Kalan Ritchie (6-5, 245) will solidify the defensive front while Brenten Wimberly (6-1, 215) will be a force at linebacker for GMC. Meanwhile, Devontae Freeman (5-10, 185) and David Mims (6-1, 200) will be counted on in the Bulldogs' secondary.
"We have a lot of young talented players. The key will be how fast they grow up, learn the system and bring it on game days."