SCOOBA — Former Aberdeen High School standout Sammie Burroughs is not worried about the role he plays with the East Mississippi Community College football team.
Instead, he is simply happy to have a role.
“Everybody has a role on this football team,” Burroughs said. “We play in the best program in the state. That is exciting. It is fun to come to work each day and to get better. Whatever is asked is what you do around here. When everybody does their part, we are a good football team.”
Burroughs and the rest of the No. 6 EMCC squad will play host to archrival Itawamba Community College in a Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges North Division matchup.
Kickoff for EMCC’s Homecoming game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Sullivan-Windham Field in Scooba.
Last season, Burroughs suffered an ACL injury in the Lions’ fourth game of the season. He watched and rehabbed as EMCC repeated as National Junior College Athletic Association national champions.
“It was the hardest thing I ever went through playing football,” Burroughs said. “You get excited because it looks like you are going to play a lot. Then the injury happens and it all goes away. It’s up to you to work hard to get back on the field. Fortunately, my teammates had my back and they kept me up when I was down.”
Burroughs finished with three receptions in four games. Fortunately, four other former teammates from Aberdeen were on the roster. That helped push Burroughs when things looked bleak.
“You are learning so much as a freshman,” Burroughs said. “My situation was unique in that I was learning the freshman players on the team. I also had some older guys that I went to school with. So it made it all better. It was a lot of hard work to get back to this point.”
After losing the game he had played since childhood, Burroughs was quick to embrace the return.
“Sammie is one of our hardest workers,” EMCC offensive coordinator Marcus Wood said. “There was no doubt that he was going to come back and play. He was going to make big-time contributions again. Football teaches you how to handle adversity. Sammie learned from his adversity and overcame it.”
This season, Burroughs has been learning a pair of new quarterbacks – sophomores Wyatt Roberts and John Franklin III, a transfer from Florida State. Burroughs is fifth on the team with eight receptions for 75 yards.
“Both quarterbacks are really good but they do things in different ways,” Burroughs said. “I think a lot of people think the offense is off to a slow start. However, we know what we are capable of doing. We just have to keep working hard and keep getting better. All of those long hours during the summer will pay off eventually. We have won championships in the past. So we know what it takes to be special.”
As a senior, Burroughs led Aberdeen with 42 receptions for 782 yards, with eight touchdowns. The invite to play at Scooba was met with open arms.
“We have one of the best offensive systems in the nation,” Burroughs said. “Everybody comes here and shows out. That is why it doesn’t take long to answer. You know you will be provided for. You will have a chance to make plays and a chance to move on to a senior college. Plus, you will compete for championships. There is really nothing to not like.”
EMCC saw its two-season, 25-game win streak snapped with a 31-24, overtime loss at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in the second week of the season. EMCC has since rebounded with a 69-0 win over Coahoma Community College and a 56-7 win over Northeast Mississippi Community College to start division play 2-0 for a fifth straight season.
Despite the setback, EMCC remains firmly in the Top 10 with legitimate hopes for a fourth national championship in five seasons.
“Each week we are focusing on being 1-0,” Burroughs said. “We know we have some really good teams left on the schedule. We also know what it takes to win a championship. All we can control is winning the rest of our games. We are working hard to make sure we do just that.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.