Gulf Coast up next for Hinds

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The big boys on the block are about to rumble.

Hinds Community College, ranked No. 6 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association poll, travels to Perkinston on Thursday to take on fourth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The South Division opener of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges season is a matchup of national powers and a possible state championship preview — at least to fans. For Hinds coach Gene Murphy, it’s just an important step on the road there.

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“You’ve got to keep everything in perspective. It’s a very important game, but it’s a division game. It’s not a game about the ranking,” Murphy said. “Where the ranking matters is the end of the season. It’s where you are when you start lining up division records.”

Both teams enter Thursday’s game with perfect 2-0 records, but they’ve taken decidedly different paths to get there.

Gulf Coast blew out Coahoma 64-14 in its opener, then scored 36 straight points in the last 21⁄2 quarters to beat Holmes 46-12 last week.

Hinds, meanwhile, has totaled more than 300 rushing yards in wins over Mississippi Delta and Coahoma, but struggled in the first half of each game before pulling away. The Eagles led by five points at halftime against Mississippi Delta, and 7-0 at the break against Coahoma.

Murphy said it would take a better effort than that to beat a team the caliber of Gulf Coast.

“We can’t keep playing like we have been in the first two games. The bottom line is, we’ve got to play and that’s it. You can’t play sparingly or just in the second half,” Murphy said. “We’re playing two quarters and they’re playing four. They got Coahoma 50-7 at the half and we got Coahoma 7-0 at the half. That should tell you everything you need to know.”