Tyler Junior College coach Danny Palmer is interviewed by CBS-19's Jeff Schaffer during Southwest Junior College Football Conference Media Day Thursday at Garden Valley Resort and Golf Club in Lindale. TJC is picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll.
LINDALE — It appears the junior college football race is as unpredictable as the Big 12.
In the annual coaches' poll, only 10 points separate the schools from first to fifth in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. The poll results were announced during the annual SWJCFC Media Day on Thursday at Garden Valley Resort & Golf Club.
Tyler Junior College is picked to finish fourth, just four points behind co-favorites Kilgore and defending champion Navarro.
KC and NC both received two first-place votes and 51 points. Five schools received first-place votes.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M was next with first-place tally and 50 points. Next is TJC with 47 points.
Trinity Valley and Blinn received the other first-place votes with the Cardinals tabbed for fifth with 41 points, followed by Blinn with 39 points. Cisco is forecast for seventh with 36 points.
Danny Palmer, entering his seventh season as Apaches coach, is confident his squad will continue to excel offensively and feels the defense, especially the secondary, will be much improved.
Gone is the rifle arm of quarterback Tyrik Rollison, the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the league, as well as running back Ryan Young (Louisiana Tech), JaVante Mack (Sam Houston State), Jeremey Chappelle (Mississippi State) and Tracy Smith, the top three receivers in the league.
But the Apaches do have Randy Price returning at QB after missing a year due to an injury and Lamar Carraway. Price led the Apaches to the SWJCFC championship game in 2011, while Carraway, after Rollison was hurt, almost rallied TJC from a 34-7 deficit against NEO in the semifinals last year only to fall 37-35 when a late two-point conversion failed.
Palmer said he is confident at QB as well as at running back where Leroy Dobbins returns plus a newcomer in LaQuintas Wallace from Robert E. Lee.
"We really have high hopes for (Wallace)," Palmer said. "… He has had some ups and downs; but it looks like he is back with his ups. We are real proud of him as far as his attitude and workout habits throughout the summer."
Palmer expects his offensive line to be the strength of the team, led by returning starters Frank Kee, Conner Groom and Caleb Brady.
Defensively, returners include Caleb Tuiasosopo and Larry Thompson at inside linebacker.
He said he thinks the squad will be better at defensive end with Will Coleman from Lee and transfer Colton Moorehead, a former Chapel Hill standout who spent time at Northwestern State.
"In the secondary, this is what we really, really worked hard on in the spring and in recruiting," Palmer said. "We feel like we have gotten better. Last year, we were very porous against everybody. … We had a hard time stopping TJC's and KC's hard marching bands."
He is really happy about Lumi Kaba, the former Lee standout, who will use his strong leg at kicker and punter.
The Apaches will have almost 40 East Texans on the roster.
"East Texas is a hotbed for football," Palmer said. "When I was at the University of Houston, East Texas was a highly recruited area and still is … we are very lucky to get these kids."
The regular season begins early with Trinity Valley hosting defending national champion Iowa Western Aug. 24 at Bruce Field in Athens. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
TJC will scrimmage Louisiana College on Aug. 24 in Shreveport, La. (7 p.m.). The Apaches open the regular season Aug. 31 against Fort Scott (Kan.) at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
The top four teams in the regular season advance to the semifinals, which are set for Nov. 2 with the championship game on Nov. 9.
TJC Football Schedule
Aug. 24 ^vs. Louisiana College 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 Fort Scott (Kan.) 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Kilgore 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 SE Prep 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 *Blinn 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 *at NE Oklahoma 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 *Navarro 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 *at Cisco 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 *at Trinity Valley 3 p.m.
Oct. 26 *#Kilgore 3 p.m.
^scrimmage in Shreveport, La.
Link to Original Article at EETFinalScore.com: http://www.etfinalscore.com/ET-Football/182377/apaches-picked-fourth-in-coaches-poll#