By finishing the 2016 campaign with a 6-3 record, the No. 9 ranked Holmes Community College Bulldogs recorded the best season since 2002 when the Bulldogs finished 9-2 and captured the MACJC State Championship.
During the season, the Bulldogs gained national attention in the NJCAA polls by first receiving votes and then moving into the polls at No. 19. After each win, the Bulldogs continued to climb in the polls and got to as high as No. 7 before the final poll placed them at No. 9.
The Bulldogs picked up four straight wins to open the 2016 campaign. Holmes defeated East Central Community, 48-40, who was receiving votes in the preseason NJCAA poll, in Decatur before getting two wins over Southwest Mississippi Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College by scores of 34-20 and 41-0 over Delta in the North Division opener. Holmes then went back on the road to Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale and won 34-12 picking up their second division win of the year and fourth straight win.
Holmes then lost two battles with nationally-ranked opponents Northwest Mississippi Community College and East Mississippi Community College. Holmes fell to No. 2 Northwest in Senatobia, 27-12, and No. 5 East Mississippi in Goodman, 63-49, in a slugfest. The Bulldogs then fell to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Goodman, 35-21, in a non-division contest.
To round out the division schedule, the Bulldogs picked up wins over No. 7 Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, 41-21, and No. 15 Itawamba Community College in Goodman, 63-49.
The Bulldogs, who have sat near the top in rushing the last few seasons, continued the trend this season finishing the regular season ranked at No. 2 in rushing yards per game with 316.4. Holmes had 2848 yards on 476 attempts. The Bulldogs were ranked fourth in rushing touchdowns with 34. To go with the rushing prowess, Holmes averaged 164.3 yards per game in the passing game ranking the Bulldogs 11th in total offense at 480.8 yards per game. Holmes led the country in yards per catch with a 21.4 yard average. Holmes scored 38.1 points per game.
Holmes was led offensively by sophomore quarterback Dejerric Bryant, who was named MACJC Honorable Mention All-State. Bryant was 69-of-137 for 1479 with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran the ball 77 times for 259 yards and six touchdowns.
Leading rusher for the Bulldogs was sophomore running back Matt Fuller, who was recently named MACJC Honorable Mention All-State, finished the regular season with 719 yards on 103 carries and nine touchdowns. Freshman running back Cameryn Brent had 542 yards on 93 carries and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Antavius Moody, who was recently named MACJC Honorable Mention, had 382 yards on 38 carries and five touchdowns. Moody also had 13 catches for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore receiver D.J. Montgomery, who was recently named MACJC First Team All-State, led the Bulldogs in receiving with 786 yards on 29 catches and eight touchdowns, which was good for a 27.1 yards per catch average.
Defensively, the Bulldogs gave up 29.7 points per game and gave up 380.3 yards per game. As a team, the Bulldogs had 599 tackles along with 62 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, eight interceptions, nine forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and 35 pass breakups.
Holmes was led on the defensive side by sophomore linebacker Jamar Smith, who has recently been named MACJC First Team All-State and NJCAA All-Region XXIII, with 82 tackles. He had 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack and two fumble recoveries.
Sophomore defensive back Q'Mond Woods, MACJC Second Team All-State, had 61 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Sophomore linebacker Buddy Benson had 57 tackles including four tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. Sophomore defensive back Darron Temple finished with 52 tackles while freshman linebacker Quindarrius Whitley had 46 tackles including four tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks and freshman defensive lineman Vada King, MACJC Second Team All-State, had 44 tackles including 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Defensive backs Sean Harper and Dante Wigley along with defensive lineman Tyshon Spencer were each named MACJC Honorable Mention All-State following the season.
Specialists Zack Schemmel and Sanchez Berry were recently named MACJC Second Team All-State. Schemmel, a sophomore punter, had 36.9 yards per punt while Berry, a freshman kick returner, had 469 yards and a 17.4 return average.
Holmes Head Coach Jeff Koonz was named MACJC Coach of the Year for the second time during his Holmes career.
The appearance in the Graphic Edge Bowl is Holmes' first bowl appearance in the last 28 years. Holmes appeared in the Texas Junior College Shrine Bowl in 1988 falling to Trinity Valley.
The Reivers went 2-0 in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference by defeating Iowa Central, 20-17 and Ellsworth, 37-0. They fell in their first two games of the season to Arizona Western, 25-19, and Hutchinson, 21-12. They then won two straight over Fort Scott, 26-7, and Butler, 49-7 before falling to Coffeyville, 41-20. They defeated Dodge City, 34-29 before falling to Garden City, 27-17 and Highland, 24-15. They picked up wins over Iowa Central and Ellsworth before ending the regular season with a 44-7 win over DuPage.
In the preseason poll, Iowa Central was ranked No. 6 and was ranked No. 20 on Sept. 19 before falling out of the poll after that point. They received votes in the final poll but were not ranked. In the final poll, Garden City was ranked No. 1 and Arizona Western was ranked No. 2. Dodge City was ranked No. 16 and Highland was No. 17. Coffeyville received votes.
The Reivers averaged 26.6 points per game and gave up 18.6 points per game. Offensively, the Reivers were 25th in passing yards per game with a 215.1 per game average and 44th in rushing with a 127.9 per game average making them 37th in total offensive yards per game with an average of 343 yards per game average.
Andrew Nunez leads the Reivers in passing. He was 125-of-199 for 1478 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. Nick Easley led in receptions with 61 catches for 780 yards and five touchdowns while D'Anfernee McGriff had 38 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns.
The Reivers finished the regular season with 817 tackles, 98 tackles for loss, 27 sacks and 20 interceptions.
Iowa Western played in the Graphic Edge Bowl last season and defeated Georgia Military, 20-6. The Reivers won the 2012 National Championship.