Stephens leads EMCC to another national title


Notes, quotes and a thought or two……

As we move into December, football is winding down.

Mississippi public schools just finished up their state championships this past weekend. Just as the public schools finished, the junior college football season also came to an end on Saturday as East Mississippi Community College won its fourth junior college national title.

For high school kids, all they know is the dominance of the Lions, thanks in part to the Netflix documentary “Last Chance U.”

But I’ve been around a little bit longer than that and remember a time when the Lions were really bad and I thought the school might close all together at one point. Today, they are the top junior college football program in the nation.

Coach Buddy Stephens deserves a lot of credit for that. Of course, turning around a JUCO program can happen quickly because players are there for only two years.

Stephens’ success at EMCC has even drawn some national attention. A story on Twitter said that Tennessee might have some interest in Stephens. Considering the dumpster fire

that Tennessee football is at this point, I would have to think long and hard about that. But jumping from East Mississippi to Tennessee would be one of the greatest leaps in football history.

Many people were offended by Stephens’ language in the first year of “Last Chance U.” I was glad to see Stephens turn over a new leaf. While Stephens may rub some the wrong way, there is no arguing his record on the field. I believe this guy can coach and congratulate him on a fourth national title.

The Choctaw legacy continues

I got to watch the Choctaw Central girls play this week at the East Central Community College Tournament. The Lady Warriors cruised through the tournament, smashing everyone on their way, including a previously undefeated Newton team.

I might be going out on a limb here, but this might be the best Choctaw Central team ever. And yes, I’m old enough to remember when Choctaw Central wasn’t even good at girls’ basketball. That was until Willis Tullos started coaching and convinced his team that hard work and practice led to wins on the court. He is also credited with helping start Upward programs at the tribe’s feeder schools. Now, they play most every Saturday at those schools, and you can see it translate on the court. Not only is Choctaw Central reaping the benefits, but look at Newton County, Neshoba Central and Leake Academy girls’ programs that rely heavily on Choctaw players.

As I like to say at Leake Academy, the more players I get to call out from Standing Pine, the better off we are.

Now if you want a real experience, you should travel to the reservation one weekend night and see Choctaw play at home, a place affectionately known as the “Scalping Grounds.” They are really good on their home court, but if you go, get there early because seats are hard to find if it’s a good game. And eat before you get there because nachos can be hard to come by.