Buddy Stephens Selected as 2011 ACCFCA Coach of the Year

East Mississippi Community College Head Coach Buddy Stephens has been named the 2011 American Community College Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year. The award will be presented to Stephens at the American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year Dinner on Tuesday, January 10, at the 2012 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

“I’m very humbled about the great news of receiving this tremendous honor coming from coaching peers,” Stephens said. “This is certainly a coaching staff of the year award in our particular situation at EMCC. This is a true measure of just how good our players and assistant coaches really were this football season. Everything has come to fruition from what we set out to do four years ago, and hopefully this season validates everything we’ve been attempting to accomplish during that time.”

Stephens recently completed his fourth season as head football coach at East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) by guiding the 2011 Lions to the school’s first-ever National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship. EMCC won a school record 12 games in 2011, capped off with a 55-47 win over previously No. 1 ranked Arizona Western College in the El Toro Bowl. Stephens’ also led EMCC to the NJCAA Region 23/Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Championship for the second time in three years.

In running the table on the gridiron this season with the nation’s top-rated offensive unit, the EMCC Lions knocked off eight teams that were ranked among the NJCAA Top 20 at some point during the course of the season, including four foes ranked in the Top 5 nationally at the time of their head-to-head meetings with the Lions. Stephens was honored this year as the NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.  He was also tabbed the 2011 MACJC North Division Coach of the Year by his coaching peers. Stephens has compiled an impressive 36-8 overall record and 22-2 division mark since taking over the Lions’ head coaching duties in late-2007. During his debut season at EMCC, Stephens was tabbed by his coaching peers as the 2008 MACJC Coach of the Year after guiding the Lions to an 8‐2 overall record, including the first of two straight undefeated (6‐0) MACJC North Division marks on the way to making the school’s first state football playoff appearance since 1984.

A year later, the Lions put together what was then the all-time winningest season in school history in 2009. Along with successfully defending their MACJC North Division title and making a school-first second straight appearance in the state playoffs, the Lions claimed the program’s first‐ever state championship with a memorable 75‐71 shootout victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast. EMCC capped a then-school best 11-1 campaign with a 27-24 Mississippi Bowl victory over Arizona Western to earn a No. 4 national ranking in the final 2009 poll.

Stephens arrived on the Scooba campus in December 2007 after spending the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach at Pearl River Community College.  During Stephens’ stint at PRCC, the Wildcats posted a seven‐year composite record of 60‐12 (.833), including an NJCAA championship in 2004 and four consecutive MACJC state titles. Before his Mississippi community college coaching career began in 2001, Stephens spent eight years at the high school level at four different schools in Alabama and Louisiana.  His prep coaching days began at Sparkman High School in Toney, Ala. (1993‐95), followed by offensive coordinator coaching stints at Hammond High School (1995‐96) and Plaquemine High School (1996‐98) in Louisiana.

Stephens received his first taste of full‐time coaching experience at Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana-Monroe), where he completed his master’s degree in 1992.

About the ACCFCA: Community college football coaches are among the very best in the profession. In recent years, there have been two organizations, the California Community College Football Coaches Association and the National Junior College Football Coaches Association. Each organization had its own coach of the year. In 2000, the AFCA invited the organizations to meet at the AFCA Convention. Three national goals were set: to form a national community college football coaches’ association, to study the possibility of a national championship game between the two organizations and to elect, yearly, a national coach of the year and to have that coach recognized by the AFCA.

Their initial goal, to create an umbrella coaches association, has been accomplished. In 2002, the American Community College Football Coaches Association selected its first national coach of the year, Michael White of Reedley College.  Past winners of the ACCFCA Coach of the Year are: Troy Morrell, Butler Community College, 2003; Tim Hatten, Pearl River Community College, 2004; Don Dillon, American River College, 2005; John Featherstone, El Camino College, 2006; Jeff Chudy, Bakersfield College, 2007; Jeff Jordan, Butte College, 2008; Brad Franchione, Blinn College, 2009 and Bob Jastrab, Mt. San Antonio College, 2010.

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