BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/NEMCC Athletics) - The Northeast Mississippi Community College football program will deal with a scheduling rarity for the second time in the last three years this fall.
The Tigers will play each of their nine regular season games on a weeknight for just the second instance in program history during the upcoming 2018 campaign.
"We're not alternating between three Thursday games, two Saturday's and then back to Thursday's," said Northeast head coach Greg Davis. "That makes a huge difference when you're talking about (student-athlete) recovery and routines. That's a big advantage for us."
The Tigers have participated in at least one weekend contest each year dating back to 1949 with the exception of the 2016 season, which ended with a top 10 ranking from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Northeast begins its schedule on the road for the second consecutive campaign on Thursday, August 30 at Southwest Mississippi Community College. It is the initial meeting between the Tigers and Bears in a season opener since 2004.
It is also the second straight year that Northeast's longest trip comes in its inaugural matchup. The Tigers journeyed some 300-plus miles to Pearl River Community College to open the 2017 slate last autumn.
Northeast gets the benefit of five home games once again starting on Thursday, September 6 when Copiah-Lincoln Community College pays a visit for the first time in six seasons.
Play inside the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division gets underway one week later in the City of Hospitality with the annual "Battle of the Tigers" between Northeast and Coahoma Community College.
The Tigers wrap up the first full month of competition with two critical league tests away from Booneville at Holmes Community College and archrival Itawamba Community College.
Homecoming will be held midweek for the fourth year in a row. All the activities that are held on campus that week culminate with a pivotal gridiron matchup against Mississippi Delta Community College on Thursday, October 4.
Northeast then faces a crucial three-game stretch to conclude the campaign that begins with back-to-back contests versus the two reigning divisional champions of the Magnolia State.
The Tigers welcome MACJC South Division winner Jones County Junior College in the non-conference finale for both clubs on October 11 before traveling to MACJC North Division titleholder Northwest Mississippi Community College the following Thursday.
Northeast honors another outstanding sophomore class on Thursday, October 25 when defending national champion East Mississippi Community College treks to the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium.
"We feel like the parity in our league has gotten a little bit more equal. It's going to be intriguing to see where we all are," Davis said. "The North Division has been very stout the last two years. I don't expect anything different going into this season."
The 2018 MACJC State Playoffs starts with the semifinal round on November 3 with matchups on the campuses of the two schools that capture division crowns. The title game takes place on November 10.
The NJCAA will host an official national championship contest separate from its bowl system for the first time ever in Pittsburg, Kan., in early December. It also sanctions nine other postseason games across the country, including the annual Mississippi Bowl in Perkinston.