Bowl-bound Busters: GCCC football gets bid to Mississippi game.
By ADAM HOLT
Wednesday, the scene at Memorial Stadium again featured the shrill blasts of whistles and the click-clack of football pads.
Why? Because the Garden City Community College football team has a bowl game to prepare for.
The Broncbusters will head to Biloxi, Miss., to face Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) in the Mississippi Bowl on Dec. 2. Garden City was one of the 20 teams to go bowling, when the NJCAA announced the pairings for its nine bowl games and the national championship.
It was a good feeling for the team when GCCC head coach Jeff Tatum told the Busters on Tuesday night that they would be playing another game, and Garden City's first bowl game since 2005.
"Very excited," Tatum said Wednesday. "It's another chance to compete in another game, and our sophomores, another chance to be evaluated another week (by NCAA coaches)."
GCCC sat at 6-4 after a loss to No. 2 Butler in the Region VI playoffs, and it looked like Garden City's season was likely finished.
Instead, the Busters will face the No. 7 team in the nation, in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges champion Wolfpack.
"It means a lot, because we thought our season was over," quarterback Nick Marshall said. "So we're just gonna take this bowl game, go down to Mississippi, get these two practices out of the way, and come back focused."
Garden City practiced Wednesday and went again today, before picking up with three more practices, on Nov. 26-28.
GCCC is one of just three unranked teams to receive a bowl bid. Tatum said the Mississippi Bowl originally wanted Georgia Military, which had accepted a bid to the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl. Past connections then helped GCCC — Tatum coached at Georgia Military and was a player and coach at Mississippi Delta Community College, which is in the MACJC.
"When they found out that I had been here, and I had coached in Mississippi, my ties to Mississippi (they reached out)," Tatum said. "And then they found out about all the guys we had from the state of Georgia close by, they thought it would be a great matchup."
Marshall, the KJCCC offensive player of the year, is one of those Georgia natives, and likely also one of the reasons the Mississippi Bowl selected the Busters. Garden City is seventh in the nation in total offense, and averaged just over 38 points per game. At the very least, the Busters offered the bowl committee a dynamic and entertaining offense.
Co-Lin (9-2) had a remarkable playoff run, beating defending NJCAA champion East Mississippi 47-46, then upsetting Mississippi Gulf Coast 41-37 to claim the conference title.
Garden City's last bowl game was a 35-31 loss to Dixie State (Utah) in the Dixie Rotary Bowl. GCCC is 8-10-1 all-time in bowl games.
In other KJCCC bowl games, No. 2 Butler will face No. 1 Iowa Western in the NJCAA National Championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa, also on Dec. 2, while No. 14 Hutchinson hosts Iowa Central in the Salt City Bowl in Hutchinson on Dec. 1.