SCOOBA, Miss. (WTVA) -- It was news that rocked the Junior College world last year when East Mississippi Community College decided to sit out the 2020 season because of Coronavirus concerns. But now they’re back and the players are ready to hit the field.
"Last year we missed it a whole lot, we really hated it, we really missed it," Sophomore Zach Patterson said. "But I feel like it energized us and gave us the motivation to make it all the way this year."
Patterson decided to return to Scooba for his 3rd year of eligibility. The Corinth native is only one of four players on EMCC who saw action in the 2019 season. One of the others is Starkville native Kel Williams, who is happy that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror.
"Man it feels great, coming back from COVID you know what I’m saying it's been a long ride, strictly grinding," Williams said. "Now we’re back, man, 16 days from, we’re ready to get to it."
In 2021, the Delta variant is bringing up a similar feeling to 2020, but head coach Buddy Stephens said that he used the year off to learn from what worked well and what maybe didn’t work well in 2020. However, what he really focused on leading up to the season other than game film: getting the Lions vaccinated.
"We’ve had 100 percent vaccination with our guys right now," Stephens said. "Everybody has had at least one shot, everybody will have two before we ever play our first ball game, everybody within our program and I think that’s been a big thing."
Coach Stephens said he didn’t make his players get vaxxed, he brought in doctors to explain why it was important and then let the players decided for themselves.
"That’s been the biggest thing over the past year, year and a half is getting the proper information to our young men," Stephens said.
The pictures are taken and now the true countdown begins to the 2021 season. The Lions open up their season on September 2nd at home against East Central.