Top-ranked and reigning national and state champion EMCC features 13 players with postseason football honors

Top-ranked and reigning national and state champion EMCC features 13 players with postseason football honors

SCOOBA – Fresh off claiming a third straight MACJC state football championship and securing a spot in this year's NJCAA eTeamSponsor Football National Championship, the top-ranked and reigning national champion Lions of East Mississippi Community College feature 13 players who have garnered postseason honors for their season-long individual efforts on the gridiron.  The 2018 NJCAA All-Region 23 and MACJC All-State football teams were officially announced Tuesday by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges office headquartered in Jackson.

Leading the way for seven-time NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year Buddy Stephens' 11-0 EMCC Lions were the seven-player, all-region collection comprised of wide receiver Dontario Drummond (Laurel), running back Deon McIntosh (Pompano Beach, FL), quarterback Messiah deWeaver (Dayton, OH), offensive linemen LaQuinston Sharp (Columbus) and Jakoby Jones (Starkville) as well as defensive lineman Everitt Cunningham (West Point) and kick returner DJ Clayton (Kemper County HS).

Joining them on the MACJC's All-State/North Division First Team were Lion defensive standouts Lashawn Paulino-Bell (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Fred Hervey (Charleston) and JaQuez Akins (Starkville).  

In addition, EMCC placed wide receiver Kalem Reddix (Biloxi/St. Martin HS), offensive lineman Connor Reinike (Starkville) and defensive back Josh Miller (Kokomo/West Marion HS) on the MACJC's All-State/North Division Second Team.

McIntosh, a transfer from Notre Dame, and Sharp, a Mississippi State commit, were chosen by the MACJC's head football coaches as the Offensive Most Valuable Players for the MACJC North Division's backs and linemen, respectively.  Currently ranked second among NJCAA rushing leaders with 17 touchdowns and sixth nationally with 1,081 rushing yards on the year, McIntosh capped his sixth 100-yard rushing effort of the season with the go-ahead, 71-yard touchdown run that sealed EMCC's 19-14 road victory over No. 4 Jones College in this past Saturday's MACJC state championship game played in Ellisville.

Drummond is presently tied for third in the NJCAA with a state-leading 11 touchdown receptions along with ranking seventh nationally with 818 receiving yards and ninth with 52 catches for the season.  His two scoring grabs against Jones in the state title game gave the Laurel High School product 21 career touchdown receptions to surpass Lacoltan Bester (19 TDs) for the top spot on EMCC's career list during the Stephens era.

Helping to direct the NJCAA's fourth-highest scoring offense (41.5 ppg), along with TyQuan Ulmer (Laurel) and the injured Vijay Miller (Itawamba AHS) at the quarterback position, deWeaver rates second nationally in pass completion percentage (69.2%).  Having completed 164-of-237 passes for 1,639 yards on the year, the Michigan State transfer has thrown 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.                           

Cunningham, a sophomore defensive end out of West Point, headlines a vaunted East Mississippi defense that leads all NJCAA teams in allowing an average of only 11.4 points per contest for the season.  As a group headed by Cunningham's 19.5 tackles for loss (T-8th in NJCAA) and 13 quarterback sacks (T-5th), the Lions are also ranked second nationally with 47 sacks, fifth in total defense (215.2 yds/gm) and tied for 10th with 17 pass interceptions.

A freshman linebacker from Charleston, Hervey is EMCC's leading tackler with 86 total stops on the year, including 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  Akins, a sophomore cornerback out of Starkville, tops the Lions with four pass interceptions, including pick-sixes against Pearl River (30 yards) and Northwest Mississippi (79 yards).  Paulino-Bell, a Michigan State transfer defensive lineman, has recorded 9.5 tackles for loss this season, including 5.5 sacks.

Headlining EMCC's trio of second-team, all-state selections is Reddix, who ranks as the Lions' second-leading receiver with 48 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns.

On the heels of winning their seventh MACJC state football championship over the past 10 years (2009, '11, '13, '14, '16, '17 & '18), including a current string of three straight titles, the EMCC Lions will be bidding for their fifth NJCAA football national championship in eight years (2011, '13, '14 & '17) when they meet the second-ranked and unbeaten (10-0) Broncbusters of Garden City (KS) Community College, Nov. 29 in Pittsburg, Kan., for the 2018 NJCAA eTeamSponsor Football National Championship.  With kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State University, this year's junior college football title bout will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.