Charlotte, N.C. (NJCAA) - East Mississippi head coach Buddy Stephens has been named the 2018 NJCAA Football Coach of the Year. Selected by the NJCAA Football Committee, the honor is Stephens' third coach of the year accolade of his 11-year tenure with the Lions.
Stephens led East Mississippi to its second consecutive national championship with an unblemished 12-0 record. The Lions topped Garden City (KS) 10-9 on Nov. 29 to secure its fifth national championship, all under Stephens. The five titles rank second in NJCAA history.
"I'm incredibly honored and humbled to represent all of the great players and coaches we've had here at East Mississippi Community College through the years. We've had a great group of kids this season who did a fantastic job overcoming some adversity. This is a team honor and a representation of the commitment made by many individuals associated with our proud college."
The 2018 season marked a monumental season for Stephens as the Huntsville, AL native eclipsed the 100-career win milestone. Stephens' 110 wins are tied for sixth-best among active NJCAA coaches and are tied for 34th on the all-time list. Stephens' .894 career winning percentage is the best mark in NJCAA history among coaches with at least 100 games coached.
Under Stephens' guidance, the national championship season in 2018 saw the Lions rank fourth in the nation with 38.8 points per game while the defense limited the opposition to 11.2 points per contest that included a pair of shutouts. The championship game against Garden City, broadcast live on national television, proved to be a signature moment for Stephens.
"I'm also very thankful and humbled by the fact that EMCC was able to represent the NJCAA in the first live televised national championship junior college football game. It was a monumental event during a very important time for the growth of the NJCAA."
Stephens, who previously earned the NJCAA Football Coach of the Year award in 2014 and 2017, guided six All-Americans in 2018 as announced by the NJCAA Football Committee on Tuesday, tied for the most among all teams.