October 22, 2014 10:05:09 AM
SCOOBA -- The stakes remain high for the No. 1 East Mississippi Community College football team even though its postseason destination is set.
EMCC is again in the running for a National Junior College Athletic Association national championship. Four more victories will give EMCC an unprecedented third national championship in four seasons.
So while the Lions already have won the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges North Division championship, the quest for a national title and a third undefeated regular season will be the focal point at 7 p.m. Thursday when EMCC (8-0, 5-0 division) plays host to Mississippi Delta C.C. (3-4, 2-3) at Sullivan-Windham Field.
"The first championship is nice, but we have bigger goals," EMCC sophomore wide receiver Brandon Acker said. "Our goal is to go 1-0 each week. If you go 1-0 each week, it adds up to championships. The North Division championship was the starting point. We got bigger things to go after."
EMCC clinched its sixth division championship in the past seven seasons last week with a 49-0 win at Northwest Mississippi C.C. EMCC has won its five division games by an average of 58.6 points per game.
"Each year, there are some good teams in the MACJC North Division, so we take a lot of pride in winning the championship," EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said. "Our focus has always been on getting better through the course of a season. We know how hard it is to achieve a perfect season. We will never take that for granted."
EMCC will play host to the South Division runner-up Nov. 1 in the opening round of the MACJC playoffs. No. 12 Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (6-2, 4-1 MACJC South Division) will play host to Jones Junior College (5-3, 3-2) Thursday night. If Co-Lin wins, No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. (7-1, 5-1) will be the division runner-up and will come to EMCC. If Jones wins, Co-Lin will be the runner-up.
In the regular season, EMCC beat Co-Lin (46-10) and Jones (55-0). EMCC beat Gulf Coast 45-28 in the team's last meeting in the 2013 MACJC semifinals.
In the North Division, Northwest Mississippi C.C. (3-5, 3-2) will earn the No. 2 seed with a victory against Coahoma C.C. (0-8, 0-6). Otherwise, Itawamba C.C. (4-4, 4-2) will get the nod.
EMCC also will try to match a school record with its fifth shutout of the season. The Lions have posted four-straight shutouts and haven't allowed a point in 18 quarters. History is on EMCC's side, as the last three games against Delta have been EMCC shutout victories by a combined score of 180-0.
"It's personal," said EMCC sophomore defensive back Quan Latham, of Columbus. "Last year's team was really known as a big-play defense. It has taken a little while, but we have grown up and become just like them."
Stephens has led EMCC to the playoffs in each of his seven seasons as coach. The Lions have beaten the Trojans six-straight times. Delta had won the nine previous series meetings.
Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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