Meridian Star

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December 9, 2013

Winning in Mississippi extra sweet for EMCC

BILOXI — “If you build it he will come” is a popular quote from the 1989 film Field of Dreams. The statement could be said of the winning tradition behind the success of the East Mississippi Community College football program.

    Sunday afternoon, EMCC beat Georgia Military College, 52-32, to claim its second National Junior College Athletic Association national championship in three seasons at the Mississippi Bowl at Biloxi Indian Stadium on the campus of Biloxi High School. The championship marked the first time a football national title took place on Mississippi soil

    “It was great to be able to play the game here,” EMCC head coach Buddy Stephens said. “I believe it gave us a lot of great publicity, and it’s an even better venue when you can come and win it.”

    Stephens believes winning a title in front of so many home supporters will only aid in his recruiting efforts.

    “Winning the national championship gives us a tremendous advantage in recruiting,” he said. “It shows players that if they want to win a national championship, they need to come play football here at East Mississippi.”

    Defensive Most Valuable Player Jimmie Gipson III was excited about being able to play in Mississippi for the big game.

    “It was a blessing,” Gipson said. “To be able to play in your home state was exciting.”

    Gipson believes if a young man wants to play Division I football, you can’t beat EMCC.

    “If you give 100 percent, and you listen to your coaches then you can achieve great things,” Gipson said. “EMCC is the place to be if you want to play college football at the next level.”

     EMCC quarterback and Mississippi Bowl Committee Player of the Year Dontreal Pruitt enjoyed being able to play in front of family and friends.

    “It was a great feeling to be able to play my last game at EMCC in Mississippi,” Pruitt said. “To make history by winning the first national championship played in your home state is something I will always remember.”

    Pruitt was also very vocal about EMCC being the place to play JUCO football in Mississippi.

    “There are a lot of guys that will be playing Division I football next year off of this team,” Pruitt said. “The Division I programs come to Scooba, and they pick out the players they want for their respective universities. “

    Former Alabama defensive end D.J. Pettway was happy about helping EMCC win the national championship. Even though he was born in Pensacola, Fla., he said he realized what this title meant to the team and its fans.

    “It’s an enormous accomplishment,” Pettway said. “I’m proud to be able to be a part of this football team  by helping to bring the first national championship game win  on Mississippi soil.”

    Pettway has even done a little recruiting for the Lions.

    “I was talking to players on the sideline earlier, and they were telling me they were excited about coming to play here at EMCC,” Pettway said. “I told them to come on because this is the place to play if you want to play in the SEC.”

    EMCC defensive back Allen Sentimore was speechless about winning the national championship.

    “I don’t know what to say at this moment in time,” Sentimore said, “I’m just so excited to a part of this team, and to bring home the national title.”

    Sentimore has gained a lot of knowledge about his position at EMCC, and he believes EMCC has the best defensive coaches for upcoming athletes.

    “I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been here at EMCC,” Sentimore said. “My defensive coaches know a lot, and I have learned from them. It truly is the place to be.”

    Lion defensive player Defond Bester has been looking forward to this moment all year.

    “We knew what we had to do back in the summer during workouts,” Bester said. “It was a great honor for us winning it here in Biloxi.”

    Like his teammates Bester feels many players will decide to play at EMCC.

    “I believe you will  have players change their minds and come play at EMCC,” Bester said. “I think winning big games like this will help in recruiting not only now, but it will help years down the road.”

    Just like Ray Kinsella in the movie Field Of Dreams, Coach Stephens has made EMCC and Scooba the place to come.

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