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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (WCBI/EMCC Athletics) – For the second time in three seasons after leading the Lions of East Mississippi Community College to the NJCAA National Championship, EMCC head football coach Buddy Stephens has been named the 2013 Junior College National Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly magazine, a nationally renowned football coaches’ publication.

(EMCC Athletics)

(EMCC Athletics)

American Football Monthly, a leading resource for football coaches since 1997, has annually selected college and high school coaches of the year since the publication’s inception. Along with EMCC’s Stephens at the junior college level, other AFM Coach of the Year recipients among the collegiate ranks for 2013 include: Jimbo Fisher of Florida State (FBS); North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl (FCS); Adam Dorrel of Northwest Missouri State (Division II); Pete Fredenburg of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Division III); and Grand View University’s Mike Woodley (NAIA).

All of the 2013 AFM Coach of the Year collegiate recipients will be featured in the February issue of American Football Monthly magazine, which is slated to be available during the first week of February. Fans can purchase the issue by calling the AFM offices at 1-800-537-4271, ext. 329 or by e-mailing Rex Lardner at rlardner@afmmedia.com.

Having also claimed the NJCAA Region 23 as well as Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division Coach of the Year honors this past season, Stephens guided the 2013 EMCC Lions to the school’s second NJCAA National Championship in three years with a 52-32 win over top-ranked Georgia Military College a month ago at the Mississippi Bowl in Biloxi. EMCC also claimed a third NJCAA Region 23/MACJC State Championship in five years with victories over top-five teams Mississippi Gulf Coast (45-28) and Jones County (61-24) in the semifinals and championship game, respectively, of the 2013 MACJC State Playoffs.

This year’s unbeaten (12-0) East Mississippi squad led the NJCAA in scoring offense with an average of 62.2 points per game while setting a new NJCAA single-season standard by compiling 7,327 yards of total offense on the year. Defensively this past season, EMCC recorded an NJCAA-best 67 sacks and finished second nationally with 30 pass interceptions. The 2013 Lions also ranked second nationally by allowing an average of only 9.8 points per game defensively, which included a dominant stretch with five shutout victories during a six-week span.

With a composite six-year overall record of 56-10 (.848) since taking over EMCC’s football coaching duties beginning with the 2008 campaign, Stephens has elevated East Mississippi’s football program to rank as the fourth-winningest NJCAA member school over the past six seasons, including a 32-2 collective mark dating back to the Lions’ 2011 national championship season. Along with the pair of national titles, Stephens’ EMCC Lions have captured three NJCAA Region 23/MACJC State Championships in five years as well as earning five MACJC North Division regular-season titles in his six seasons on the Scooba campus.

Stephens, a native of Huntsville, Ala., previously garnered American Football Monthly’s Junior College National Coach of the Year recognition in 2011 after leading the undefeated (12-0) EMCC Lions to the school’s first-ever NJCAA National Championship. That same year, the former Delta State University and Pearl River Community College offensive line standout also collected the prestigious American Community College Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor.

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