SCOOBA – Defending MACJC North Division champion East Mississippi Community College is ranked sixth nationally in the 2009 NJCAA/ JC Football.com Preseason Top 25, as announced Thursday by the National Junior College Athletic Association office headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Guided by reigning NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year Buddy Stephens, in his second season on the Scooba campus, the EMCC Lions return five offensive starters and five defensive starters from last year’s 8-2 club that went unbeaten (6-0) in divisional play and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 1984. East Mississippi finished 10th in last year’s season-ending NJCAA/ JC Football.com rankings.
Two-time defending national champion Butler Community College (Kan.) tops the NJCAA’s preseason poll, followed by defending Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) champion Mississippi Gulf Coast, Ellsworth Community College (Iowa), Snow College (Utah) and Blinn College (Texas).
Other MACJC schools included in the NJCAA’s preseason poll are Pearl River (No. 11), Jones County (No. 14) and Northwest Mississippi (No. 19). The EMCC Lions are slated to open the 2009 campaign at Copiah-Lincoln on Thursday, Aug. 27 before beginning a three-game home stand Thursday, Sept. 3 against Jones County.
In addition to their preseason No. 6 ranking, the East Mississippi Lions also landed three first-team All-Americans and one second-team All-American among the NJCAA’s preseason All-American squads. Along with tying Eastern Arizona for the nation’s most first-team selections with three, EMCC is the only MACJC school with more than one All-American on this year’s preseason listing.
Offensively, the Lions feature first-team honorees Randall Mackey at quarterback and West Point’s Quartney Cox on the offensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive end Claude Davis has been named to the NJCAA’s first team along with linebacker Alvin Ellis of Columbus on the second-team unit.
A sophomore signal-caller from Bastrop High School in Louisiana, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Mackey was tabbed the NJCAA Region 23 Most Valuable Player a year ago after leading the nation in passing with 281.8 yards per game and ranking second nationally in total offense with 330.4 yards per contest. Anchoring the Lions’ offensive line, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Cox was also an NJCAA All-Region 23 pick last season as a freshman.
Davis, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound pass rusher from Lakeland, Fla., earned second-team MACJC All-State North Division honors a season ago after being credited with 87 total stops, including 15 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. A first-team MACJC All-State North Division selection as a freshman, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Ellis tallied a team-high 113 total tackles in 2008, along with recording three pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles.