Desoto County Sports

Rangers Release 2024 Football Slate

New schedule includes conference-wide bye week

Credit: Northwest CC Sports Information

With kickoff just three months away, Northwest has unveiled its 2024 season schedule, highlighted by four regular season home games.

This year’s schedule will include one key component not found in previous seasons, a conference-wide bye week, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 3. Three of the Rangers’ home games will occur prior to the bye week and all home games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. start time.

Northwest is slated to start the season on Thursday, August 29 against Pearl River. The Rangers and Wildcats have met in each of the last three seasons, breaking a previous five-year drought. Northwest has won each of the last six meetings dating back to 2010, with the Rangers earning a 27-3 victory at Bobby Franklin Field last season.

Northwest will then hit the road in Week 2, traveling to Decatur to face East Central on Thursday, September 5. The last time the Rangers and Warriors met was the 2019 season-opener, when Northwest took a 26-13 decision at ECCC. Northwest has won 11 straight meetings against East Central, dating back to 2002.

Division play is anticipated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 12, when the Rangers host rival East Mississippi. Both teams have had their fair share of battles over the past couple of decades, with both Northwest and the Lions being nationally-ranked in each of the last 11 contests. Additionally, at least one team has been in the national rankings leading into the matchup in 15 of the last 17 contests, dating back to 2009.

Since 2015, both teams have either won the MACCC North Division or finished as the runner-up, with the two powerhouse programs meeting in the postseason three times in the same stretch. Northwest leads the all-time series by a 43-27-1 margin. 

Last season, the Rangers dropped a 35-17 decision to the Lions in Senatobia, and Northwest will be looking for its first victory against EMCC since September 29, 2022.

From there, Week 4 will see the Rangers make the short drive to Clarksdale, taking on Coahoma on Thursday, Sept. 19. Northwest has won the last 13 meetings against the Tigers, dating back to 2010. Last season, the Rangers throttled Coahoma by a 55-7 final on Homecoming.

Northwest will welcome Northeast to Senatobia in Week 5, as the Tigers and Rangers meet for the first time since last year’s regular season finale. In a classic overtime battle, Northwest rallied back from a 14-0 deficit late in the third quarter, earning a narrow 28-27 win to lock up the program’s 10th straight conference playoff appearance. 

Northwest has won each of the last nine meetings against the Tigers dating back to 2015, but both teams have played into overtime three times since 2014.

Following the conference’s bye week, the Rangers will resume action on Thursday, Oct. 10, stepping out of division play to face Southwest Mississippi in Summit. This will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2019, when Northwest claimed a 29-10 victory against the Bears in the second week of the season.

Northwest will continue its road swing on Oct. 17, when the Rangers pay a visit to Mississippi Delta. Currently, Northwest holds a 22-3 series lead over the Trojans since 2000 and the Rangers have won 11 straight meetings since 2014.

Last season, the Rangers traveled to Moorhead and picked up a 31-13 victory against Mississippi Delta in Moorhead.

Northwest will return to the friendly confines of Bobby Franklin Field on Thursday, Oct. 24, hosting Homecoming against Holmes. The matchup will also mark the Rangers’ final home game of the regular season, as Northwest welcomes the Bulldogs to Senatobia for just the second time since 2018.

Northwest is 21-3 against Holmes since 2000 and the Rangers have won each of the last four meetings. Last year’s 36-28 victory in Goodman provided a scare however, as the Bulldogs nearly rallied back to tie the game late, only to be denied on three straight incompletions and a potential game-saving sack from Rod Daniels on fourth down.

Halloween hijinks await the Rangers in the regular season finale, as Itawamba welcomes Northwest to Fulton. It will be the Rangers’ second consecutive trip to ICC, as Northwest came away with a 38-13 triumph against the Indians last season.

Northwest has won four straight games against Itawamba, but the Indians won two out of three meetings against the Rangers from 2017-19. This will also mark the first time Northwest has played a game on Halloween since 2015, when the Rangers earned a 27-20 win against East Central, in a rain-soaked MACJC playoff battle.

No kickoff times have been formally announced for any of the Northwest road contests, with the exception of the Oct. 31 game at Itawamba, which is scheduled for 7 P.M.

The 2024 campaign will mark Benjy Parker’s ninth season as the Rangers’ head coach and his 19th season overall on a JUCO coaching staff. Since 2016, Parker has guided Northwest to six MACJC/MACCC title games, two bowl game appearances, a 65-19 overall record and a 41-7 mark in conference play. 

Parker’s .774 winning percentage currently ranks as the best all-time for a Northwest head coach, slightly above the .772 career win percentage from all-time winningest coach Bobby Ray Franklin (1981-2004). Additionally, Parker holds an .854 winning percentage in conference play.

Last season, Northwest finished 7-3 overall and made the MACCC playoffs for the 10th straight season, the longest postseason streak in program history. Additionally, the Rangers also finished No. 13 in the final NJCAA rankings.