East Mississippi Community College head coach Buddy Stephens was named 2017 NJCAA Coach of the Year.
East Mississippi Community College head coach Buddy Stephens was named 2017 NJCAA Coach of the Year.
From school reports



East Mississippi Community College head football coach Buddy Stephens continues to add to his impressive coaching resume on the heels of guiding the Lions to their fourth NJCAA national championship in seven years.  As announced Wednesday by the NJCAA office, the 10th-year EMCC head coach has been recognized by the NJCAA Football Coaches Association as the 2017 Spalding® NJCAA Football Coach of the Year.

Along with becoming the first Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) member school to reach four national football titles, as recognized by the NJCAA, Stephens’ 2017 EMCC Lions also captured their sixth MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 championship in nine years.  East Mississippi capped a second straight 11-1 campaign by claiming a 31-28 win over then-No. 2 Arizona Western in the NJCAA Football Championship Game/Mississippi Bowl X (Dec. 3 in Perkinston).  Prior to that on Nov. 11 in Senatobia, the Lions posted a thrilling 67-66 double-overtime road victory over then-No. 4 Northwest Mississippi to successfully defend their state title.

“I would like to thank (NJCAA Executive Director) Chris Parker and his staff at the NJCAA office along with Spalding for their continued sponsorship with the NJCAA,” Stephens said.  “I want to also extend a sincere appreciation to (EMCC President) Dr. Tom Huebner, (EMCC Director of Athletics) Dr. Randall Bradberry and to EMCC's Board of Trustees for having the foresight to envision the importance of athletics at the community college level.”

This year marks the second time that EMCC’s Stephens has received the Spalding® NJCAA Football Coach of the Year honor since Spalding® partnered with the NJCAA in 2013 to become the title sponsor of the award.  Stephens previously earned the national honor in 2014 after leading the 12-0 Lions to their second consecutive undefeated national championship season.  He also garnered national Coach of the Year recognition in 2014, as well as following EMCC’s 2011 national title campaign, from the American Community College Football Coaches Association (ACCFCA).   In addition, the six-time NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year honoree is a two-time recipient (2011 & 2013) of the Junior College National Coach of the Year, as awarded by American Football Monthly magazine.

Owner of a 10-year head coaching mark of 98-13 (.883) at East Mississippi, Stephens surpassed legendary Hall of Fame head coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan as the school’s career wins leader this past season.  Stephens also currently ranks as the NJCAA’s all-time leader in career winning percentage for coaches with 100 or more career games coached.

“From a personal standpoint, I am extremely proud for Coach Stephens because this has been one of his best years coaching here at EMCC,” EMCC Director of Athletics Dr. Randall Bradberry noted.  “His strong leadership has been instrumental in the consistent football success we’re continuing to enjoy here at East Mississippi Community College.”

Along with having guided EMCC to four national championships and six state titles, Stephens has also led the Lions to eight MACJC North Division regular-season crowns and six postseason bowl game victories during the past decade.  His East Mississippi teams have also put together composite marks of 56-4 (.933) in regular-season division play, 12-3 (.800) in MACJC playoff games and 10-0 in championship contests (4-0 in national championships & 6-0 in state championships).  Including separate winning streaks of 25, 20 and 17 consecutive games, the EMCC Lions are 74-5 (.937) collectively with five double-digit win seasons dating back to the start of the 2011 campaign.

“Anytime we receive an award here at EMCC, it’s always a staff award,” Stephens added.  “We’re very excited about this award and about the year we’ve had, and we’re equally enthusiastic about the future of East Mississippi Community College.”