EMCC Head football coach Buddy Stephens looks to help the Lions continue their winning ways in 2017.
EMCC Head football coach Buddy Stephens looks to help the Lions continue their winning ways in 2017.
From school reports

Looking to make another bid for national championship consideration, East Mississippi Community College has received a No. 2 ranking in the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Preseason Rankings for the upcoming campaign.

Published for the past 13 years by nationally renowned junior college football authority Brad Hoiseth, the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Preseason Rankings considered all 134 of the nation’s two-year schools that feature football programs. Along with the 65 junior colleges affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) that compete in football, the preseason rankings also included the 69 competing members of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).

To begin the upcoming college football season, EMCC trails only top-ranked Arizona Western College in the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Preseason Rankings. A year ago in Yuma, Ariz., AWC fell to Garden City (Kan.) Community College in the 2016 NJCAA Football Championship Game (El Toro Bowl).  Rounding out this year’s preseason Top 5 of the Dirty 30 are City College of San Francisco at No. 3 followed by Trinity Valley (Texas) CC and Ventura (Calif.) College.    

Also representing the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) in this year’s JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Preseason Rankings are Mississippi Gulf Coast (No 6), Copiah-Lincoln (No. 15) and Northwest Mississippi (No. 18). In addition from the MACJC, Northeast Mississippi, Holmes, Jones County, Itawamba and East Central are all listed among others on the bubble.

East Mississippi continues to lead all junior colleges (NJCAA and CCCAA) with three JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 postseason national titles (2011, 2013 & 2014) that were claimed during a four-year span.  Last season, the 11-1 EMCC Lions were ranked third in the season-ending JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 behind 2016 NJCAA national champion Garden City and CCCAA state champion Fullerton College.

Entering the upcoming season with an overall record of 87-12 and a career winning percentage of .879, 10th-year EMCC head football coach Buddy Stephens is set to challenge the NJCAA’s all-time standard for highest career winning percentage among football coaches with a minimum of 100 career games coached as well as being poised to break Bob “Bull” Sullivan’s all-time school record for most career coaching wins. Along with the three national championships to his credit, Stephens has also guided the Lions to five MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 titles, eight MACJC North Division regular-season crowns and five postseason bowl game victories.

Having also earned a No. 3 preseason national ranking by Street & Smith’s 2017 College Football Preview magazine, the EMCC Lions will kick off the upcoming football season with back-to-back home contests against perennial MACJC South Division powers Jones County (Aug. 31) and Mississippi Gulf Coast (Sept. 7).