ATHENS — It’s not often one of the top games of the year happens in Week One.
But that’s on the agenda today as the No. 13 Tyler Junior College Apaches and the No. 4 Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals tangle in the spotlight game in NJCAA football.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Bruce Field.
The NJCAA tabbed the contest the Game of the Week as the Highway 31 rivals meet in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference game.
The traditional powerhouses saw a resurgence last season with TVCC and TJC tying for the regular season Southwest Junior College Football Conference title in 2013. The Cardinals then won the postseason and capped off their 10-2 record with a bowl victory and a No. 5 national ranking. Tyler finished its season 9-2, along with a bowl victory for a No. 10 ranking.
With 15 starters returning, TVCC has its eyes on a national championship. Among those returning include wide receiver Jarvis Baxter (49 catches for 751 yards, 8 TDs). Other key players include running back Luis Lopez, offensive linemen Deandre Banks and Reggie Harris.
Defensively, middle linebacker Cortney Finney leads the Cardinals.
TJC, on the other hand, has just four starters returning and will rely heavily on freshmen.
Tyler coach Danny Palmer will be relying on numerous freshmen.
Leading the way on offense are linemen Sam Jenkins and Idong Okon.
Defensively, Colton Moorehead (former Chapel Hill standout) and Mote Maile (committed to Oklahoma State) will try to halt the Cardinal attack.
Moorehead had 49 tackles a year ago with 1.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Maile had 30 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
SMOKE SIGNALS: The Apache Belles are scheduled to perform. … TVCC has a nine-game winning streak, second in the nation. … The