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For Starkville Daily News

SCOOBA – Bid­ding for their sev­enth con­sec­u­tive MACJC North Di­vi­sion reg­u­lar-sea­son foot­ball ti­tle, the No. 1-ranked Lions of East Mis­sis­sippi Com­mu­nity Col­lege travel to Se­na­to­bia to­day to meet 10th-ranked North­west Mis­sis­sippi Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

The Top 10 re­match of last year’s MACJC state cham­pi­onship game is slated for a 6:30 p.m. kick­off at Ranger Sta­dium at Bobby Franklin Field.

Own­ers of a 17-game over­all win­ning streak and win­ners of 28 con­sec­u­tive reg­u­lar-sea­son di­vi­sion games, the un­beaten EMCC Lions (6-0, 4-0 MACJC North) are look­ing to claim their ninth MACJC North Di­vi­sion crown since 10thyear head coach Buddy Stephens took over the pro­gram. Dur­ing the past decade, East Mis­sis­sippi has also cap­tured three NJCAA national cham­pi­onships and five MACJC state ti­tles.

En­ter­ing this week’s ac­tion ranked third among the NJCAA’s team sta­tis­ti­cal lead­ers in scor­ing of­fense (49.5 points per game), third in to­tal of­fense (529.3 yards per game), third in pass­ing yardage (320.3 yards per game), tied for sec­ond in rush­ing touch­downs (22) and fifth in scor­ing de­fense (13 points per game), EMCC most re­cently posted a 49-3 home win over then-No. 15 Holmes last Thursday in Scooba. The vic­tory im­proved the Lions’ composite record to 30-8 against ranked op­po­nents (NJCAA poll) dur­ing the Stephens coach­ing era, which in­cludes marks of 18-4 ver­sus Top 10 teams and 16-2 against top five squads dat­ing back to the 2008 cam­paign.

EMCC quar­ter­back Lind­sey Scott Jr. and de­fen­sive back Duke Up­shaw

With a ca­reer over­all coach­ing record of 93-12 (.886) and 55-3 (.948) in di­vi­sion play as EMCC’s all-time win­ningest coach and the NJCAA’s all-time ca­reer win­ning per­cent­age leader for coaches with at least 100 games coached, Stephens owns a 9-1 mark and seven-game win streak against North­west Mis­sis­sippi. A year ago, the Lions swept the Rangers with both games be­ing con­tested in Scooba. After No. 4 EMCC claimed a 51-32 win over top-ranked North­west dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son (Oct. 15), the No. 3 Lions claimed their fifth state cham­pi­onship in eight years a month later (Nov. 12) with a 38-30 vic­tory over fourthranked NWCC at Sul­li­van-Wind­ham Field. Most re­cently in Se­na­to­bia, the Lions recorded con­vinc­ing road wins over North­west dur­ing their back-to-back national cham­pi­onship sea­sons (79-7 in 2013 & 49-0 in 2014).

To­day’s Top 10 MACJC show­down be­tween EMCC and North­west Mis­sis­sippi will be broad­cast live by WFCAFM (107.9), out of French Camp, with Ja­son Crow­der and Char­lie Winfield slated to pro­vide the play-by-play and color com­men­tary, re­spec­tively, and Glen Beard set to serve as the Lions’ side­line re­porter. EMCC’s 2017 foot­ball ra­dio broad­casts will also be car­ried live by EMCC’s cam­pus ra­dio sta­tion, WGTC-FM (92.7), orig­i­nat­ing from the Golden Tri­an­gle cam­pus in Mayhew.

In ad­di­tion, EMCC’s weekly live video-streamed foot­ball broad­casts will be avail­able in HD at www.EMCCAth­let­ics. com/live.

Will Miller leads the unit with 97 tack­les, while Spivey adds 87 stops, Archer con­trib­utes 82 tack­les, Matt Miller has 81 tack­les and Latham chipped in 79 tack­les.

Latham had five tack­les against Can­ton Academy with three of them for a loss and he had a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

Be­ing in the pro­gram three years now, Latham now knows as a sopho­more what to ex­pect.

“As I’ve got­ten older, I’ve got­ten more com­fort­able,” Latham said. “Coaches are putting me in the right sit­u­a­tions and ev­ery­one is do­ing their job. If I do my job, ev­ery­thing works out.”

Latham was a valu­able con­trib­u­tor as an eighth grader when Hous­ton Massey had to sit out due to in­jury.

Chase Ni­chol­son said Latham does a good job of learn­ing the plan and get­ting it done.

“He does a good job of ad­just­ing with coach But­ler and be­ing able to un­der­stand what’s going on with the dif­fer­ent de­fenses,” Ni­chol­son said.

Latham and the SA de­fense will be called upon again this week when it goes against a very strong Her­itage Academy team in Colum­bus.

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