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.