POPLARVILLE, Miss. — New coach Seth Smith won't get to ease into his college coaching debut. By his own words, Pearl River's opening opponent is "Goliath," "the standard" and "the best team in the nation." The magnitude of Thursday's 7 p.m. kickoff at Dobie Holden Stadium is not lost on the Pearl River County native who has returned home to lead his beloved Wildcats.
"I can't help but smile," he said. "Our first game here, we are rolling out a new look for the program and we're starting with the best team in the nation," Smith said. "They have some great players and their coaches are tremendous. (Head coach) Jack Wright has had success everywhere he has been. We're going to go out there, try our hardest and hope for the best.
"It will be a great measuring stick for us."
Smith's tenure at PRCC started off unlike any other. After being hired at the end of 2019, Smith met with his inherited roster and then let them loose for winter break. The Wildcats returned in the spring and were able to work out for a few weeks before the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic hit and the country was essentially shut down.
Although the NJCAA opted to postpone the season until the spring, the MACCC's leadership received a waiver to play in the fall. The schedule, as a result, went through a couple of drafts before landing on the current slate of six games.
Now, the Wildcats have completed a full preseason camp and are only days away from making their highly anticipated 2020 debut.
"We have harped all camp about getting better and trying to put our stamp on the program; we will find out Thursday how far we have come and how far we have to go," Smith said. "Obviously Gulf Coast is the standard in junior college football so what better opportunity than to get to play them in Game 1 and see how we measure up against the standard."
In part because of the hectic nature of everything in 2020, Smith said he hasn't had the chance to stop and just envision what it will be like Thursday to lead the Wildcats onto the field.
"We're just extremely excited to get back to football," he said. "Really, we're overwhelmed with joy for Thursday to get here so we can figure out where we are as a program."
WILDCATS AND BULLDOGS
According to Pearl River records, the Wildcats lead the all-time series against MGCCC 55-38-1. PRCC's last win over the Bulldogs came in the form of a 31-27 victory in 2017. Current Memphis quarterback Markevion Quinn was the deciding factor in the game, throwing a touchdown and rushing for two fourth-quarter scores in the four-point victory.
Due to the ongoing pandemic along with state and local guidelines, capacity at Dobie Holden Stadium will be extremely limited.
Although tickets for Thursday's opener have already sold out, fans can purchase individual tickets for PRCC's two remaining home games by the business office in the Ted J. Alexander Administration Building on Mondays of game week (Oct. 12 and Nov. 2). General admission tickets are $10. Faculty, staff and students can pickup their free tickets on Tuesdays (Sept. 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 3) by stopping by the athletics table in the Great Hall, located in Crosby Hall between 8 a.m. and noon.
Tickets will not be available for purchase online or over the phone.
STREAMING + RADIO
PRCCMedia.com will once again be the digital home for Pearl River Wildcat Athletics in 2020-21. All football games will be livestreamed in addition to being carried on WRJW 1320 AM and WRJWRadio.com.
Carey Meitzler will return as the play-by-play voice of the Wildcats for both the stream and radio. He'll be joined once again by Barry Harper as the color analyst. Jacob Hickman will provide insight from the sidelines.