MAYHEW — East Mississippi Community College’s second national football championship season in three years was celebrated Saturday night in a ring presentation banquet in the Lyceum auditorium on EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus.
EMCC players, coaches, and administrative and support staff personnel from last year’s national championship team were recognized in the 90-minute ceremony in which they were presented separate rings honoring the 2013 NJCAA National Championship team members as well as the program’s third MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 Championship in five years. Players in attendance, including many of whom have started their senior college careers, also received gift bags that included the players’ actual game jerseys from the Mississippi Bowl/NJCAA National Championship Game, championship T-shirts, and the comprehensive DVD set of “Inside the PR1DE: The Complete Second Season.”
Along with the presentation of championship rings, members of the Lions’ football coaching staff handed out individual awards and certificates to EMCC players for their All-American, NJCAA All-Region 23, and MACJC All-State recognition from this past season. With EMCC football radio play-by-play announcer and WFCA-FM sports director Jason Crowder serving as the master of ceremonies, banquet attendees also were treated to a season highlight video presentation as well as speeches from EMCC President Dr. Rick Young, Vice President/Director of Athletics Mickey Stokes, and EMCC football coach Buddy Stephens.
In addition to becoming just the third school affiliated with the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) to have claimed multiple NJCAA National Championships in football through the years, EMCC also earned the school’s fifth MACJC North Division regular-season crown during Stephens’ six-year head coaching stint in Scooba by going unbeaten in division play for the fourth time since 2008.
With a composite six-year record of 56-10 (.848), including a 33-3 (.917) regular-season division mark, since taking over EMCC’s football coaching duties beginning with the 2008 season, Stephens has helped EMCC be the fourth-winningest NJCAA member school in the past six seasons. The Lions have a 32-2 (.941) three-year record, including a pair of undefeated campaigns, dating back to their 2011 national championship season.
EMCC capped its most recent unblemished (12-0) season was capped in December with a 52-32 victory against top-ranked and previously undefeated Georgia Military College in the Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi. In advancing to their second NJCAA National Championship Game in three years, EMCC beat top-five foes Mississippi Gulf Coast (45-28) and Jones County (61-24) in the semifinals and championship game, respectively, of the 2013 MACJC State Playoffs in Scooba.
The Lions led the NJCAA in scoring offense with an average of 62.2 points per game while setting a new NJCAA single-season standard by compiling 7,327 yards of total offense on the year. On defense, EMCC had five shutouts in a six-week stretch early in the year en route to recording an NJCAA-best 67 sacks and finishing second nationally with 30 pass interceptions.