Broncbusters lose national championship by one
Sugar Beet staff reporter
The number-two ranked Garden City Broncbusters and number one ranked East Mississippi Lions went head-to-head at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kan. to crown the champion, at the 2018 annual National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Football Championship that took place on Nov. 29. Both teams have had a spotless record all season; Broncbusters going 10-0 and Lions going 11-0.
The Lions are led by head coach Buddy Stephens. Stephens has coached this team for 11 seasons now, and has led them to four national titles, six Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) titles and came back determined to claim the title.
The Broncbusters have had success upon the arrival of head coach Jeffrey Sims. Missouri native, Sims has been the head coach for the past four seasons for the Broncbusters, and has led them to a national championship in 2016, over Arizona Western, his second Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) title in three years, and has been awarded with KJCCC Coach of the Year. Sims will be heading to Missouri Southern State University concluding his contract with GCCC.
On Thursday night, the Lions broke the ice by scoring a field goal curtesy of Josh Smith from 36 yards. The second quarter seemed to go in the Lions favor as Everitt Cunningham scored a touchdown from a fumble recovery. The score was 10-0 entering halftime, Lions leading.
“For a defensive point of view, what I told my guys was how we ended the first half we should go out and start the second half, because we ended the first half with the fourth fumble sack. So I just wanted them to start the second half with that same energy and same ability and for the most part we started off hot in the second half. So I feel like mentality for my guys just keep that same energy and elevate,” Ben Bradley, GCCC defensive line coach, said.
The Broncbusters scored a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter provided by Ben Raybon. As the fourth quarter rolled around making a one yard run, scoring a touchdown for Garden City was Dedrick Mills. With only one point separating the score, Sims made the decision to go for a two point conversion.
“The defense wasn’t lined up correctly on the PAT (point after touchdown), and the decision to go for the win instead of the tie was the right choice,” Tyler Stutzman, senior, said.
“I would’ve gone two in the same situation and I know a lot of coaches would’ve done the exact same thing,” Josh Hager, GCCC defensive coordinator, said.
East Mississippi ended the game with one point over Garden City, 10-9, clinching their second straight title, and overall fifth for Stephens.
The Broncbusters had an impressive defense holding off the Lions 50 point game average.
“They (EMCC) are a team that averages almost 50 points a game and was held to a field goal on offense,” Stutzman said.
The Broncbusters piled up many defensive highlights that night.
“I feel like the defensive line played very well. We probably had our best game of the year, we had a fourth fumble sack, and we also recovered the fourth fumble with a D-lineman by Dmac (Demarcus Elliot). We made a lot of plays throughout the whole night and I’m very proud of how they performed,” Bradley said.
The future of GCCC football are still being put into place. But, former head coach of Arizona Western, Tom Minnick, is set to take Sims’ position.
“If the players that are currently here, and the ones that come in will listen to the coaching staff, and do the things they ask and demand of them. Then they’ll be successful, and that’s why we were successful. And the guys that we had here on this team, listened to what we were asking of them and did the things we were asking of them. And as a result we were successful because they were coachable,” Hager said.
Kayla Nguyen is a health sophomore. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org