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Buddy Stephens weighs in on upcoming JUCO football season

Coach Stephens talks with a referee during a game in 2018.
Coach Stephens talks with a referee during a game in 2018.(Archive Photo)
Published: Jun. 28, 2020 at 1:06 AM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - While the Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges (MACJC) plans to have football in the fall, there is still uncertainty regarding whether or not the coronavirus will allow that to happen.

What happens if players begin testing positive? Would the season stop? Could we see no JUCO football in the fall in Mississippi?

EMCC head football coach Buddy Stephens, who is entering his 13th season in Scooba, believes that if coronavirus cases continue to grow, football at almost all levels could be stopped.

“I think what you’re gonna find is around the country, there may not be a shutdown there may be a slowdown,” Stephens explained. “But if there’s a shutdown you’re gonna see it in the high schools, the junior and community colleges, NCAA Division III, Division II and possibly Division I FCS schools.”

Stephens believes FBS programs and the NFL won’t shutdown as abruptly as other due to the revenue generated from both.

While Stephens is trying to be realistic about the chances of playing in the fall, he knows he still has to move forward with business as usual.

“If they (MACJC) end up having to call the season in the middle of it or if they call it towards the end or we have a break in the middle, let’s just roll with it,” Stephens said. “Let’s help these young men get as much film as they can so they can get scholarships and move on with their life. That’s what we’re there for.”

Stephens said his staff has been holding weekly zoom meetings with players in order to stay on track. As for evaluating 2020 signees, he said all have been tasked with sending their coaches workout footage for them to assess.

The MACJC already announced changes to this football season which include pushing back the start of the season to Sept. 10 and taking away one non-division matchup. Stephens said his program and others across the state have to be appreciative that the association is allowing any games to be played.

“I think we have to put our feelings to the side and realize that this is a different year and if we get to play three balls games, it’s way more than what we would have gotten to play 5-6 months ago,” Stephens emphasized. “We’ve got to be grateful, thankful and humble and let people make decisions that need to make them."

While the only two changes have been made so far regarding the 2020 season, Stephens believes more will be announced soon as the fall gets closer.

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