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EMCC Lions set for long-awaited gridiron return with Thursday home game vs. East Central

SCOOBA – Set to hit the gridiron for the first time in two years following last year’s opt-out season due to health concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the five-time national champion Lions of East Mississippi Community College will kick off the 2021 campaign Thursday evening (Sept. 2) by playing host to the East Central Warriors on the Scooba campus.

Slated for a 7 p.m. start time, Thursday’s EMCC-ECCC season opener will mark the 10th anniversary of the debut of EMCC’s current Sullivan-Windham Field football facility.  The 2011 season was capped by the Lions’ first of five NJCAA football championships captured during an eight-year span through 2018.

Thursday’s EMCC-ECCC season opener will be broadcast live by WFCA-FM (107.9), out of French Camp, with Jason Crowder and Glen Beard slated to provide the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively.  The game’s live-streamed audio will also be carried by SuperTalk Mississippi (WZKR-FM 103.3), out of Meridian, as well as through 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.  Alternate audio streams of the radio broadcasts are also available at www.wfca.fm.

The EMCC Lions are unbeaten in four previous gridiron meetings with East Central during the Buddy Stephens era.  Most recently, East Mississippi prevailed over the Warriors during the 2018 (24-21 in Decatur) and 2019 (24-0 in Scooba) seasons.  Prior to that, the Lions posted a pair of sizable victories over ECCC in 2012 (51-7 in Decatur) and 2013 (59-0 in Scooba).

Showcasing an overall 12-season head coaching record of 116-17 (.872), including a nine-year composite record of 92-9 (.911) dating back to the 2011 season, EMCC’s Stephens will open the 2021 campaign ranked fifth among the NJCAA’s winningest active head football coaches.  The three-time NJCAA Coach of the Year recipient also ranks second all-time in career winning percentage for NJCAA head football coaches with at least 100 career games coached.  In addition, Stephens currently ranks 31st on the NJCAA’s all-time career wins list and is fifth in Mississippi junior college football history.

With the upcoming 2021 campaign marking their 10th season of home competition at the current Sullivan-Windham Field location, the EMCC Lions own a composite home record of 47-2 (.959) dating back to the 2011 season.  Their lone home setbacks during that span came two years ago against Northwest Mississippi (56-36 on Oct. 3, 2019) and during the 2012 state semifinals versus Copiah-Lincoln (47-46 on Nov. 3, 2012).

Following Thursday’s season opener against East Central, the EMCC Lions will be on the road for their next two contests – Sept. 9 at Southwest Mississippi and Sept. 16 at Mississippi Delta – before returning home to play host to the Holmes Bulldogs on Thursday, Sept. 23.  With kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus, the 10 newest members of EMCC’s Sports Hall of Fame will be recognized at halftime of the EMCC-Holmes game on Sept. 23.

EMCC’s newest Sports Hall of Fame inductees are: brothers Tony and Brad Montgomery (New Hope HS alums); brothers Ike and Ronald Clay (West Lauderdale HS alums); retired NFL defensive lineman Quinton Dial; current Columbus High School women’s basketball coach Yvonne (Davis) Hairston; baseball player Alan Page (Starkville HS alum and owner of Page Place at Dodson Farm in Starkville); women’s basketball standouts Martika Hull (Southeast Lauderdale HS alum) and Angelique Burtts; and former quarterback Greg Griffith.