Riding the momentum of three consecutive sizeable shutout victories, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College have moved up two notches to No. 3 nationally in this week’s NJCAA Top 20 national poll.
Preparing for Saturday’s 2 p.m. Homecoming contest against MACJC North Division foe Coahoma Community College, head coach Buddy Stephens’ 4-0 EMCC Lions received 127 voting points this week to trail only second-ranked and reigning NJCAA national champion Iowa Western Community College (135 pts) as well as current No. 1 Navarro (Texas) College (138 pts). Navarro and IWCC divided this week’s nine first-place votes by a 6-3 margin.
With five schools from the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges ranked among this week’s NJCAA’s Top 10, reigning MACJC state champion Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Georgia Military College fill out the current Top 5. Nassau (NY) Community College stands in the No. 6 position, followed by Itawamba, Tyler (TX), Jones County and former No. 1 Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Next week (Oct. 1), the NJCAA’s Football Computer Rankings (FCR) will go into effect for the first time this season. In its second season of adding a data-based component to the weekly rankings, the FCR accounts for 33 percent of the rankings with the remaining 67 percent coming from a nine-member NJCAA football poll voting panel consisting of seven identified panel directors and two at-large coach representatives from two conferences rotating on an annual basis.
Having ascended to the No. 1 spot nationally in this week’s JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 team rankings, the EMCC Lions continue to top the NJCAA team statistical leaders on both sides of the football by scoring an average of 61.8 points offensively and only allowing a paltry 1.5 points per game on defense. Including a current string of dominant shutout victories over East Central (59-0), Southwest Mississippi (69-0) and Mississippi Delta (70-0), East Mississippi has outscored its 2013 opposition by a mind-boggling 247-6 margin. The only points surrendered by the Lions to date this season came via a third-quarter rushing touchdown in their season-opening 49-6 win at Pearl River.
Now 48-10 (.828) overall and 28-3 (.903) in division play under Stephens’ guidance, the EMCC Lions have been ranked in the NJCAA’s Top 20 during 46 of the composite 59 weekly rankings dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Their ongoing streak of being ranked presently stands at 26 consecutive weeks spanning back to the kickoff of the Lions’ 2011 NJCAA national championship season. Over the past three seasons (2011-13), EMCC has spent 24 weeks ranked in the NJCAA’s Top 10 with 21 of those weeks positioned among the Top 5 nationally.