Smith on Sports: Don't count out EMCC this season

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

Don't count out the East Mississippi Community College Lions just yet this season.

When the Lions took a 61-38 loss to Northwest Community College Rangers a couple of weeks ago, it was a blow to EMCC's national championship hopes.

Anything short of a national title in Scooba will be a disappointment because of the high-level of excellence that has been established there under the leadership of coach Buddy Stephens.

The Lions just don't lose very often and when they do, it comes as quite a shock honestly.

It really wasn't that EMCC was beaten by Northwest, because it is a good football team, but it was the lopsided nature of the score that caught everyone's attention.

The defense of the Lions got exposed because of the 61 points given up. EMCC scored 38 points and that should be enough to win most football games.

After the loss, the Lions took a tumble down to No. 7 in the National Junior College Athletic Association rankings. To be able to play for a national championship game again, EMCC has to finish in the top two in that list.
The Lions still have time to work their way back in the hunt for the national title and took a good step last week with a 72-7 victory over Coahoma Community College.

EMCC's defense bounced back in a big way, but not only just allowing seven points to a good football team, but it was able to score points with two interception returns for touchdowns.

It was a very impressive performance by the Lions on their homecoming and one that bumped them up two spots in the NJCAA rankings to fifth this week.

Anything can happen and EMCC only has to leap over three teams to get back into a position for national title consideration. The Lions have a record of 7-1 and the win total is better than all of the teams ahead of them except for No. 1 Iowa Western's 7-1 mark. The squad ranked ahead of EMCC are No. 1 Arizona Western (6-0), Northwest Mississippi (6-1) and Blinn (6-1).

This is a big week for the Lions as they play at No. 7 Hinds Community College. If EMCC can win that game handily, it could make another move up in the polls and more importantly gain momentum going into the playoffs.

It appears the Lions and Rangers could be on a collision course to meet once again for the Mississippi Junior College State championship. Obviously if EMCC reaches that point and can defeat Northwest this time, the prospects of playing for the national crown improve.

There is plenty of football left to play for the Lions and even though the loss to Northwest was tough to see at the time, it didn't mean all of the goals for them were wiped away.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.