MJC ready for Reedley despite runner injuries

If there's one thing the Modesto Junior College football team isn't worried about today, it's the strength of its ground game.

While shoulder injuries will most likely sideline running backs Stephen Ortega and Willie Mumford in today's nonconference game at Reedley, the Pirates (1-2) are confident in their other options.

"We're lucky we have good depth there," head coach Sam Young said. "We're not overly concerned and we're excited for those kids who'll get to play more."

Fullback Marquell Colston, the team's leading rusher (23 carries, 134 yards), has experience at running back from Davis High. Freshman Theron Thomas of Hanford West High (30 miles east of Reedley) should see more action.

The Tigers (2-1) are ranked sixth in Northern California. Brad Lindsey leads Reedley with 175 yards on 41 carries. Mobile quarterback Darius Reynolds averages 228.3 yards per game, completing 34 of 63 passes with three touchdowns.

"They're a typical Reedley team," Young said. "They keep it simple and let the athletes perform. We'll have to pick our spots and take advantage of that."

Timing played a part in MJC picking captains this week, but it had nothing to do with facing one of the state's top teams.

The Pirates usually designate leaders before conference play begins, but Young said there was no point in waiting. In fact, establishing the go-to guys earlier could make the Pirates stronger by the time Golden Gate Conference play starts Oct. 13.

"The team has really bonded and they were in a position to pick their leaders," Young said. "It felt like the right thing to do. They were selected by their peers to represent the whole group. In the heat of battle, they'll look to those four."

Colston, quarterback Chad Draper and linebackers Eddie Abbasi and Dylan Miller were voted team captains. Miller said he felt honored to get a nod. But he isn't letting it go to his head.

"In the weeks to come, it's good to know the guys believe in you that way," Miller said. "It will be business as usual. We've all been working hard. To this point we've kind of had a tough go. We're all happy with our preparation, but we haven't played well enough to get by Delta and Siskiyous. We're looking forward to Reedley."