Story and photo courtesy of EMCC Athletic website.
With another state championship trophy in hand and a national championship game appearance just a few weeks away, the East Mississippi Community College football program has been recognized on the state level for the most successful season in school history with several all-region and all-state individual honors. A total of 14 EMCC players, along with Lions head coach Buddy Stephens, have collected NJCAA All-Region 23 and MACJC All-North Division accolades, as announced this week by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges.
In guiding the second-ranked EMCC Lions to their second MACJC state title in three years and an upcoming berth in the NJCAA Football Championship Game (El Toro Bowl) against top-ranked Arizona Western College, Stephens has collected NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his career. The fourth-year head coach has also been accorded 2011 MACJC North Division Coach of the Year plaudits.
Rating as one of the leading candidates for this year’s NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honor, EMCC freshman quarterback Bo Wallace has been tabbed the NJCAA Region 23 Most Valuable Player as well as the Offensive Back MVP of the MACJC’s North Division. Wallace, a former redshirt at Arkansas State University by way of Pulaski, Tenn., has already broken the NJCAA’s single-season records for most passing yards (4,118) and most yards of total offense (4,324).
Sophomore defensive end Denico Autry, EMCC’s other NJCAA All-America candidate, was selected as the Defensive Line MVP of the MACJC’s North Division along with earning NJCAA All-Region 23 honors. Also chosen to the all-region squad from the Lions’ record-setting offensive unit were sophomore offensive lineman Warren Jones, of Noxubee County High School, and sophomore receiver/returner Rodney Davis. Averaging nearly 20 yards per catch on his 43 receptions and having returned 21 kickoffs for an average of 28.6 yards per runback, Davis, from Millbrook, Ala., had the unique distinction of making first-team all-division as a kick returner and second-team all-division as a wide receiver.
With 10 players making MACJC All-North Division First Team, East Mississippi placed a pair of offensive linemen – Jones and Derrick Wilson (Horn Lake HS) – and two other out-of-state defensive linemen – Damien Jacobs (Gibson, La.) and Brandon Moore (Montgomery, Ala.) – on the squad. Including Autry, the Lions held down three of the four first-team spots along the north squad’s defensive front.
Leading this year’s EMCC squad and ranking high among the national statistical leaders in receptions (68), receiving yards (980), touchdown catches (15) and scoring (90 points), sophomore wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, of Kemper County, claimed first-team all-division honors. Sophomore kicker Taylor Walker (Northwest Rankin HS), with 82 points on the year, and freshman safety Justin Cox (West Point HS), the team’s leader with five pass interceptions, were also divisional first-teamers for the undefeated (11-0) Lions.
Highlighting East Mississippi’s quintet of MACJC All-North Division Second Team selections was freshman running back Rodriguez Moore, of Bastrop, La., who ranks fifth nationally with 1,196 rushing yards to go along with his 40 receptions on the year. Rookie offensive lineman Jarrod Atterberry, of Starkville, received second-team recognition as did sophomore defensive standouts Jeremy Cannon (West Point HS) and Michael Pack (Meridian HS). Cannon is tied for the team lead with 11 pass breakups in addition to his two pass interceptions and pair of fumble recoveries, while Pack tops all EMCC defenders with 81 total stops and is second on the team with three picks for the season.