BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - East Mississippi hit the practice field at Biloxi High School this morning in preparation for Arizona Western. The Lions (10-1)captured the 2013 and 2014 national championships at Biloxi Indian Stadium and defeated Arizona Western in Mississippi Bowl II 27 to 24...in 2009.
East Mississippi head coach Buddy Stephens says his 10 & 1 Lions may have an edge in Sunday's title game that will be played on in Perkinston, on the campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Coach Stephens said, "It's great to have Gulf Coast have the foresight years ago to host this event. It's to where I think now it's the fourth or fifth time that the National Championship is decided on Mississippi soil. That's a big thing. It does give us a definite advantage."
Arizona Western head coach Tom Minnick had his 9 and 0 Matadors got in a practice at Biloxi High in the afternoon. Minnick has recruited players national wide.
Coach Minnick said, "I have a lot of contacts. So, I've got a lot of people in my corner. We turn down a lot of them down because they're not good enough. But they want to get in good graces with Arizona Western because the fact is that we've got a good program and do a great job placing kids. In the last two years we've got 47 guys out there playing, 43 of them are Division I kids."
East Mississippi's kicking game has a coast connection, field goal kicker Taylor Crabtree of Vancleave and punter Grayson Pontius of Biloxi.
Crabtree has kicked 9 of 12 field goals on the season.
Crabtree said, "I think we feel really confident. It's a big game of course. But It's a big stepping stone for us because we haven't been to the national championship in three years. So this is a big deal for us."
Pontius said, "It's exciting really being down here in Biloxi. It's kind of cool to go back down memory lane. Of course, playing in the national championship is a huge thing."
Tickets for the Mississippi Bowl...$10 for adults and $7 for students.