Chance Lovertich won three straight state championships as Jackson Prep’s starting quarterback. Now, he has an opportunity to win a national championship as Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s starting quarterback.
Gulf Coast, 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the national junior college poll, meets 10-0 and No. 2 Lackawanna, Penn., for the national junior college championship Dec. 5 at Pittsburg, Kan., on CBS Sports Network. Lackawanna has the longest active winning streak in the nation at 22 games. Gulf Coast is second at 15.
Lovertich is a big reason once again why Gulf Coast won this past weekend The 5-foot-11, 192-pound sophomore completed 26 of 37 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns and led Gulf Coast to a 23-19 victory over then No. 4 Northwest Mississippi CC for the state title at Senatobia. Lovertich led the Bulldogs on a 78-yard, 10-play drive for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“This is all about all the hard work we put in,” said Lovertich, who is now 58-1 as a starting quarterback at Prep and Gulf Coast. “The countless hours in the summer. There’s no telling how many times we ran routes against air. Everything. This means everything to our team right here.
“We have a really special group. I could go on for days talking about this group. I just knew there was no way we were going to lose that game. I knew there was no way the defense would let up. I had faith in those guys.”
Lovertich and the Gulf Coast defense have been a winning combination this season. He is third in the nation with yards (2,676), completions (226), attempts (341), fourth in completion percentage (66.3), fifth in touchdown passes (24) and 10th in quarterback efficiency (151.3). Gulf Coast ranks second nationally in total defense and fourth in scoring defense.
Like he has all season, Lovertich made a big play late in the game to help out Gulf Coast. He scrambled for 25 yards for a first down to keep their winning drive alive.
“He took it to another level,” Gulf Coast head coach Jack Wright said. “There’s not enough superlatives in the English language to talk about his play in the course of two years here. There were a couple of times in the third quarter where we didn’t look real good and he put the team on his back and got a couple of critical plays.”
Wright can become the second coach in junior college history to win national championships at two different schools. Wright, with current Jacksonville Jaguar Gardner Minshew from Brandon at quarterback, won a national title in 2015 at Northwest Mississippi CC.
Metro Jackson area high football fans know all about Lovertich taking it to another level. He led Prep to three state titles and had amazing accuracy. When Lovertich was a junior he threw 25 touchdowns and no interceptions and had a streak of not throwing an interception in 18 consecutive games, dating back from the end of his sophomore season to the first few games of his senior season. He threw 32 TD passes with only three interceptions as a senior.
Lovertich wasn’t the only Metro Jackson area quarterback playing for a state championship Saturday.
Madison Central alumnus Jack Walker, a redshirt freshman, started for Northwest CC. The 6-3, 230-pound Walker completed 10 of 29 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Walker — played three games during his freshman season at Georgia State and transferring to Northwest Mississippi CC this year – completed TD passes in the second and third quarters to give Northwest CC leads of 13-7 and 19-14. Walker passed for 2,279 yards and 20 touchdowns and led Northwest Mississippi CC to an 8-3 record. Walker leads the nation with a 79.3 completion percentage and ranks third nationally in passing efficiency (183.4), seventh in passing yards and ninth in TD passes. Walker’s completion percentage set a national record, breaking the old mark of 77.3 by Justice Hansen of Butler in 2015. Walker’s best game was in a 47-42 loss to Holmes where he passed for 398 yards and six TDs.
Walker passed for 2,058 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for nine more and led Madison Central to a 10-4-1 record as a senior. As a sophomore, he carried the Jaguars to the biggest upset in Mississippi in 2015, ending South Panola’s season and its 26-game winning streak.
Both Lovertich and Walker’s fathers were stars in their high school days in Jackson Public Schools in the 1980s. Lovertich’s father, Trey, was the Mississippi Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year at Forest Hill High. Walker’s father, Kevin, was an All-American offensive lineman at Callaway High and played at Mississippi State.