The East Central Community College Warriors will open the 2020 football season on the road Thursday, Oct. 1, against the Jones College Bobcats in a revised football schedule that features just six regular season games.
Amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference will be the only National Junior College Athletic Association league playing football in the fall. Thus, no MACCC school will be eligible for a national championship this season as that title will be awarded in spring 2021.
To help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the MACCC schedule is starting five weeks later than usual and will feature just six games for each team, all division contests. Each team will have an open week. The North and South division champions will play for the MACCC Championship on Thursday, Nov. 19, on the campus of the South Division champion.
East Central, which is ranked No. 21 in the Street & Smith’s magazine’s preseason poll, will face preseason No. 7 Jones at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 in Ellisville.
The home opener for the Warriors will be Thursday, Oct. 8, when Southwest visits Decatur for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. It will also mark the debut of the new 12,300 square-foot Warrior Hall football operations center located outside the north end zone of Bailey Stadium.
The remainder of ECCC’s 2020 schedule includes a trip to Poplarville on Thursday, Oct. 15, to face the Pearl River Wildcats at 7 p.m., a home contest against the preseason No. 1 ranked and defending NJCAA National Champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldogs on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m., at the Copiah-Lincoln Wolves in Wesson on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m., and the final game at home against the No. 18 Hinds Eagles on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 6:30 p.m.
East Central’s open week is Thursday, Nov. 12.
Seating at the three home games in Bailey Stadium on the ECCC campus will be limited to 25 percent capacity as required by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ Executive Order No. 1519 issued Aug. 20. Other health and safety protocols, including wearing of masks while entering, exiting, and moving about the stadium; contactless and touchless mobile ticketing and cashless grab-and-go concessions; and the prohibition of tailgating will also be in place.
A plan for distributing tickets will be announced closer to the first home game Oct. 8.
East Central is coming off a 4-5 2019 season that included a 3-3 mark in the MACJC South Division. The Warriors faced seven ranked teams during the season, including the last five games in a row.