Loss of ‘mental focus’ leads to Eastern Arizona loss

The GCC football team is looking to build off of the results of last year this season, following a 5-5 record that saw them not enter the playoffs. The team will look to duplicate some of the magic that saw them bring home a national title in 2005. They will be led by Head Coach Mickey Bell, who is eager to take the squad to the playoffs like they did in 2013.

It will be a season of new faces and familiar faces alike, as is customary with the JuCo level of athletics. With nearly half of last year’s squad gone, it is time to reload and reboot for the Gauchos. “It’s a short turnaround, so every year is a new year, lot of constraints and things you don’t get coaching at high school,” said Bell. “To an extent you could say its tougher coaching JuCo than at a four-year institution.”

Of these freshmen joining the squad includes backup quarterback Sean Paul Brophy, who saw his first action against Eastern Arizona when starter Dylan Touvell went down with an injury. “Yeah, Dylan strained his knee a little bit last game so we had Sean come in, he’s back at practice, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” said Bell. Also among freshman to impress is a young receiver core led by Shawn Poindexter and Daniel Smith. The pair combined for six receptions and 87 yards in the Eas. Arizona game, while Poindexter ran a sweep for 57 yards.

On the defensive side, Coach Bell mentioned a certain outside linebacker who looks to be promising. “We got a freshman outside linebacker we kind of switched on the fly; one position to another during the game and he ended up having a really good game,” said Bell. Coach was referring to Jordan Willis, who dominated defensively, racking up 10 total tackles on the day. In the secondary, DeAnte Manlove showed great promise as well, delivering eight tackles.

The running game features two sophomores in Corey Brown and J.J. Granados. Neither could get it going in the loss to Eas. Arizona, only combining for 65 yards on the ground. The defense will return linebacker Byron Evans II, who led the team in tackles with 14 going into Wednesday. The secondary will also see Ryan Wood back in action, who picked off a pass during the first game against Eas. Arizona.

The season didn’t take a very good start though, as the Gauchos fell victim to first game jitters, losing to Eastern Arizona 31-21 August 29th. Although they managed to take an early 14 point lead thanks to two touchdown passes, both caught by Shawn Poindexter, “a loss in mental focus” led to Eas. Arizona catching up and eventually overtaking GCC. “A couple bad calls, some bad plays on our part, and just some bad luck played a part in it,” said Bell. “We lost our momentum and couldn’t recover our mental toughness in order to overcome those minor setbacks.”

Eastern Arizona’s running game was the only thing that could’ve hurt the Gauchos, with 3 players rushing for more than 50 yards that day. “That’s the option for you, with all these teams running the option anything under 300 yards given up rushing is pretty good,” said Bell. Eastern Arizona rushed for 261 yards in total.

The Gauchos will look to regain their composure come Sept 4 when they travel to the first of two straight away games against Mesa CC. Mesa will also enter the contest at 0-1 having lost their opener to Snow 24-21.