On any given Thursday Night in the fall, the town of Scooba, Mississippi lights up. The small town comes to life through its heart and soul, JUCO football.
JUCO or Junior College football in Mississippi is almost as popular as watching Mississippi State or Ole Miss play on Saturdays.
Scooba is the home of the best JUCO program in the state, the East Mississippi Community College Lions. Now, thanks to the new hit Netflix documentary, Last Chance U, Scooba and the EMCC Lions have become famous world wide.(Click here to view tweets from fans expressing their love for Last Chance U.)
Last Chance U showcases the EMCC football program in a way that is able to pull at the heart strings of any viewer. The show takes viewers through the 2015 season of the Lions, following the players and coaches daily.
Viewers of the show Last Chance U are able to understand why the players are attending EMCC. They have amazing athletic potential to play at a Division One school, but have faced various adversities.
The culture surrounding the EMCC program is what makes it special to not only players, but also the show’s viewers. This small town lives and breathes Lion’s football. They tailgate the whole day before games, and fill the stadium that night.
The Scooba community along with the EMCC coaches, EMCC’s academic athletic advisor, Brittany Wagner, and the famous fan that growls in the stands when the lions execute a successful play, make the show. All of these people inspire the players and the program to make it one of the best college football cultures around the south.
September 15, 2016 was not any different, the Lions welcomed their rival, the Northeast Mississippi Community College Tigers, to Sullivan Windham Field.
It was a warm fall night and Scooba had once again filled the stadium for their hometown team. The stadium was packed with fans wearing the Lion’s traditional red and black. Fans in the stadium could hear the famous growling of the Lion’s fan that never misses a game. After each Lion’s score a cannon was fired in celebration.
“I had never seen Last Chance U or even heard of East Mississippi Community College,” said Beth Birchfield, who attended the game. “One of my friends described to me what the show was about, and that this team was a big deal. When I arrived at the game I was blown away. They are serious about their football. They had an excellent stadium and you could tell the fans really cared about this program. It was like the whole town was there cheering them on.”
The Northeast Tigers knew to expect this type of crowd and attention when traveling to play the Lions on their home turf. Many of the players had watched Last Chance U and knew exactly what they were up against.
Northeast quarterback, Mason Cunningham, said, “There was a lot of excitement leading up to the game. Since East is so well known now, we knew that beating them could help gain attention for ourselves. While their stadium is top-notch and seen by many viewers of the show, I was more excited about playing in front of a big stage with a lot of scouts and fans in attendance.”
EMCC’s opponents know how special the Lion’s team is, and that causes them to perform at their best when playing the Lions. Not only will Division One scouts be there, but also the glory they could gain from beating one of the most famous JUCO teams in the country is at stake.
“I think it was a great experience to get compete against so many D1
prospects on one field. It created a really competitive atmosphere,” said Northeast player, Bo Canton.
The Northeast Tigers lost to the East Lions 54-10, but are still grateful to be able to play against a team under such a positive spotlight.
Scooba and the EMCC Lions are very aware that Last Chance U has put them under this spotlight, and it seems that it has helped them rise up to the challenge. This season the Lions are ranked third nationally, and set to compete for their fifth MACJC state football championship on November 12th.
They have been able to create such an amazing culture in the small town of Scooba, a football culture that any football program strives to accomplish. Yes they have their downfalls, as seen on the show, but through the player’s eagerness to make it to the next level combined with their love for the game, and amazing support they are the real deal.
I mean hey, you know your team has made it when Netflix comes knocking on your door.