College football is back across all levels, and one of the first games to kick off the Division III season will be between cross-town rivals Millsaps College and Belhaven University on Thursday night.
The annual contest, dubbed the Riverside Rumble, will be played at the Belhaven Bowl in Jackson this year with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Blazers head coach Blaine McCorkle said it’s a game fans don’t want to miss.
“We have Millsaps on Thursday night and that is a great atmosphere. If you’ve never been to the Belhaven-Millsaps game, I encourage you to come check it out,” McCorkle said on From D2 to D3. “It’s a big crowd, it’s loud, it’s chippy, our guys don’t like each other. It’s what a college football rivalry should be, and hopefully, we’ll get a good crowd out there again. If you come once, you’re going to want to come again. I promise you that.”
The Blazers, who are coming off their best season in program history with an 8-2 mark, will be led on offense by returning starting quarterback Tim Johnson, preseason All-American offensive lineman Kendrioun Boatman, and running back Kolbe Blunt.
On defense, Belhaven will look to replace one of the program’s all-time leading tacklers, Connor Fordham, with Landry Huddleston at linebacker. Defensive lineman Carlton Brown is returning after a stellar 2022 campaign that included 48 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. TJ Hersey will hold down one of the corner spots with 35 starts already under his belt.
Millsaps, on the other hand, will be led by interim head coach Cory York after Isaac Carter’s departure for the University of San Diego. York previously served as assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the Majors.
“It’s been a blessing. When I had the opportunity to do this, I told most people that that’s all I wanted was the opportunity,” York said. “I believe I can make some things happen and move forward in a positive way and that’s all I wanted was the opportunity. Basically, the ultimate goal that I’ve had for my life is to be a small college football coach, so I’m living the dream. Can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Majors, who went 3-7 in 2022, will be led at the quarterback position by returning starter Brody Davis. Offensive weapons will include All-SAA tight end D.B. Bennett and a wide receiver corps of Conner Rucker, Temias Mason, and Arkansas State transfer wide receiver Blake Wiley.
Defensively, the line will be an older group highlighted by Braylon Wills. The linebackers group includes last year’s two leading tacklers in Thomas Patterson and Nehemiah Coalson as well as Jackson State transfer Donald Turley. Darren Labit is expected to be the leader out of the defensive backs room.
The Riverside Rumble will be in its 13th year with Belhaven holding a 7-5 all-time lead. The full interviews with York and McCorkle can be listened to here.