SCOOBA — Two-time reigning national champion and three-time defending state champion East Mississippi Community College has been tabbed with a No. 1 preseason ranking in the College Football America Yearbook’s 2019 Yearbook Preseason Juco Top 30.

Coach Buddy Stephens’ EMCC Lions have previously earned No. 2 preseason rankings by Street & Smith’s 2019 College Football preview magazine and in this year’s JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Preseason Rankings behind Iowa Western Community College. 

Along with Street & Smith’s and JCGridiron.com, the College Football America Yearbook considered all 135 of the nation’s two-year schools that feature football programs. All three preseason team rankings took into account the 67 community colleges affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) that compete in football as well as the 68 member schools of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).

The College Football America Yearbook rated NJCAA championship game runner-up Garden City (KS) Community College second nationally behind EMCC this preseason. Riverside City College (CA) came in at No. 3 nationally followed by Iowa Western and Butte College (CA) at fourth and fifth, respectively.

Also representing the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) in the College Football America Yearbook’s Preseason Top 10 were 2018 MACJC state runner-up Jones College and Northwest Mississippi at seventh and eighth, respectively. Mississippi Gulf Coast also made the publication’s preseason team rankings at No. 25.

Individually for the EMCC Lions, sophomore linebacker Fred Hervey was named to the 2019 College Football America Yearbook’s Junior College Preseason Starting Lineup, the publication’s version of a preseason Juco All-America team. A product of Charleston High School, Hervey recorded a team-high 93 total tackles, including 16 stops behind the line of scrimmage, as a freshman for EMCC’s undefeated national championship squad. He also had four pass breakups, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery a year ago for the Lions.    

The 2019 College Football America Yearbook features more than 930 college football teams from the United States and Canada, including every team from the NCAA (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III), NAIA, NJCAA, CCCAA and U Sports (Canada). The 250-page, full-color print edition is available online via Amazon.com and other major retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.          

Winners of five national championships over the last eight years (2011, ’13-14 & ’17-18), including back-to-back NJCAA titles twice, the EMCC Lions are seeking to join six-time NJCAA champions Butler (Kan.) and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for the most all-time football team championships in NJCAA history. East Mississippi will also look to secure an unprecedented third consecutive NJCAA football championship. Additionally, the Lions will bid to become the first MACJC program since Pearl River (2003-06) to capture four consecutive state football championships after claiming the last three state titles (2016-18) and previously winning the MACJC during the 2014, ’13, ’11 and ’09 seasons.

EMCC’s nine-game, regular-season 2019 football schedule is set to kick off with an Aug. 29 road outing at Hinds followed by home contests against Pearl River (Sept. 5) and Itawamba (Sept. 12). A Sept. 19 road trip to Mississippi Delta will precede home encounters with East Central (Sept. 26) and Northwest Mississippi (Oct. 3) at EMCC’s Sullivan-Windham Field. The final third of the Lions’ regular-season slate will consist of MACJC North Division road meetings with Holmes (Oct. 10) and Coahoma (Oct. 17) before they play host to Northeast Mississippi on Saturday, Oct. 26, during Homecoming 2019 on the Scooba campus.

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