Headlined by Region 23 Offensive Most Valuable Player Dontreal Pruitt and Coach of the Year Buddy Stephens, the MACJC State Champion Lions of East Mississippi Community College have placed a state-high eight players on this year’s NJCAA All-Region 23 Football Team, announced Tuesday by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges office headquartered in Jackson.
East Mississippi’s individual football honors came on the same day that the second-ranked Lions accepted an invitation to meet top-ranked and fellow unbeaten Georgia Military College in the 2013 NJCAA National Championship Game to be contested on Sunday, Dec. 8 at Mississippi Bowl VI in Biloxi. Kickoff between the 2011 NJCAA Champion EMCC Lions and the 2001 NJCAA Champion GMC Bulldogs is set for 2 p.m. at Biloxi Indian Stadium.
With Pruitt, a former Laurel High School product, becoming EMCC’s fifth NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP recipient in six seasons under Stephens’ guidance, the Lions’ top-rated offensive unit nationally is also represented on this year’s all-region team by wide receiver C.J. Bates (Louisville) and lineman Avery Gennesy (Southaven).
A two-time MACJC Offensive Player of the Week honoree as a sophomore, Pruitt follows in a recent line of EMCC quarterbacks who have claimed NJCAA Region 23 Offensive MVP honors as well as NJCAA All-American recognition under Stephens’ leadership. That list consists of current starters Quez Johnson, at Florida Atlantic, and Bo Wallace, at Ole Miss, along with former Ole Miss Rebel Randall Mackey.
Defensively, three-fourths of the All-Region 23 defensive line is occupied by EMCC sophomore standouts Jimmie Gipson III (Olive Branch HS), Jarran Reed (Goldsboro, N.C.) and D.J. Pettway (Pensacola, Fla.). Also representing the NJCAA’s No. 1-ranked defense on the all-region squad are fellow Lion sophomores Christian Russell (Fayetteville, N.C.) at a linebacker spot and A.J. Stamps (Vicksburg) in the defensive secondary.
Now up for NJCAA All-American consideration, the eight all-region selections for the EMCC Lions are three more than any other team in the state this season. Mississippi Gulf Coast and Copiah-Lincoln, out of the MACJC’s South Division, follow with five and four all-region honorees, respectively. In addition, EMCC’s eight 2013 selections give the Lions a state-best total of 27 NJCAA All-Region 23 football recipients during Stephens’ six-year coaching stint in Scooba. Gulf Coast is next with 26 all-region mentions dating back to the 2008 campaign.
Along with East Mississippi’s eight all-region honorees, the Lions also placed an additional four players on the MACJC’s 2013 All-State/North Division First Team. Headed by EMCC’s Stephens as the MACJC North Division Coach of the Year, the Lions hold down 13 of the 25 first-team spots on the north’s all-state squad.
In a rare feat, EMCC players garnered all four of the Most Valuable Player honors accorded to the MACJC’s North Division. Pruitt was chosen the Offensive Back MVP for the division while Gennesy earned the Offensive Lineman MVP. On defense, Russell and Gipson collected MVP plaudits for backs and linemen, respectively.
Also chosen to the 2013 MACJC All-State/North Division First Team from EMCC are wide receiver Antoinne Adkins (Meridian) and kicker Drew White (Tupelo) on offense as well as defensive lineman D.J. Jones (Clemson, S.C.) and defensive back Allen Sentimore (Laurel). Bates, also an all-region selection, was tabbed as both a wide receiver and kick returner on the all-state listing.
Second-teamers from East Mississippi on the MACJC’s All-State/North Division squad are running back Lakenderic Thomas (West Point) and offensive lineman Wiley Maddox (Bruce).