Head Football Coach
Having rekindled the football enthusiasm not seen around the Scooba campus since the glory years of legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob “Bull” Sullivan, Buddy Stephens enters his fourth season as head football coach at East Mississippi Community College having won 75 percent of the games through his first three seasons with the Lions.
While compiling an impressive 24-8 overall record and 16-2 division mark as EMCC’s head coach, Stephens has tutored six All-Americans in addition to sending an average of 20 players per year to four-year universities and colleges over the past three seasons with the Lions.
During his debut season three years ago at EMCC, Stephens put the Scooba-based school back on the map and restored respectability for the Lions’ gridiron program statewide and throughout the national junior college football circuit. He 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.
Under Stephens’ direction, the Lions put together the all-time winningest season in school history the following year. 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 perennial powerhouse Mississippi Gulf Coast. Having climbed to as high as No. 2 in the regular-season NJCAA rankings, EMCC capped a 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.
On the heels of earning 2009 NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year honors, Stephens was instrumental in turning around EMCC’s early-season slide a year ago. Rebounding from an 0-3 start, his Lions battled back to win five of their last six regular-season games to claim the MACJC North Division’s No. 2 seed and earn EMCC’s third straight state playoff appearance.
Stephens arrived on the Scooba campus in December 2007 after spending the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss. 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. During that four‐year span (2003‐06), the Wildcats also earned four straight top five national finishes. After serving his initial campaign (2001) at Pearl River under former head coach Scott Maxfield, Stephens spent the next six seasons at his alma mater as head coach Tim Hatten’s co‐offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
With Stephens sharing the offensive play‐calling duties at Pearl River, the Wildcats ranked among the top 10 national leaders in total offense five times and in passing offense six times. PRCC topped the NJCAA statistical leaders in passing offense during the 2005, 2004 and 2001 campaigns.
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 HS (1995‐96) and Plaquemine HS (1996‐98) in Louisiana.
Stephens’ initial stop at Pearl River came as a two‐year offensive lineman under the direction of former head coach Mike Nelson. Stephens continued his playing career at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. Upon earning his bachelor’s degree in education at DSU, Stephens began his 21‐year coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. 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 and later that year was a part of the Indians’ NCAA Division 1‐AA national championship.
A native of Huntsville, Ala., Stephens is married to the former Robyn Lynn Douglas of Bogalusa, La. They have three daughters – Lauren Elizabeth, 16, Julianna Hope, 12, and Rebekah Leanne, 9.
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