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East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens could certainly find a reason to be distracted if he wanted to be.
When the Lions travel to Pearl River Community College tonight to open the season, Stephens will be returning to a place where he was a two-year letterman on the offensive line (1987-88).
Stephens will also look across the field and see the man he worked with for 12 years.
William Jones, the head coach at Pearl River, is the former associated head coach and defensive coordinator at EMCC. They were fellow assistant coaches at Pearl River.
Even though there are some strong story lines surrounding the 7 p.m. encounter between the Lions and the Wildcats, Stephens said it's best to just put those types of things out of his mind because there's a football game to play.
"When it comes down to it, you are either with us or against us," Stephens said. "It doesn't matter who it is, whether it's Pearl River, William Jones, or even if it is my brother, you are on the other side.
"For us, we are going to prepare. We've never put more emphasis on one game over the other since I've been here and the years we've been in this league because if you do that, it can lead to unreal expectations. We always want to take it one game at a time and prepare as well as we can for each game. (Games are) going to have some invariables and ingredients, but it's not going to mean any more than any other."
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