By Austin Bishop
Winston County Journal
SCOOBA — For most teams, playing defense is all about keeping the other team from scoring. But for East Mississippi Community College sophomore linebacker Marcus LeFlore and his fellow Lions, it’s also about scoring touchdowns of their own
Last season EMCC scored as many touchdowns (12) on defense and special teams as they gave up to their opponents’ offense on the way to a 12-0 record and a second-straight NJCAA National Championship.
“On defense we want to score more points than the other team’s offense,” said LeFLore, who is slated to start at outside linebacker for the Lions this season. “We are really big about pursuit and we work to cause turnovers.” And once the ball gets into a defender’s hands, the goal is to reach the end zone. “It’s something we really work on,” he said.
One of the reasons EMCC scores so many defensive touchdowns is because of the way the school recruits its personnel.
“For two years Marcus was a starting running back at Olive Branch,” said EMCC defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley. “If I look at a running back in high school, that’s a hint that he is the best athlete on their team. We have a history of taking offensive players and using them at linebacker and defense back. It has worked for us. We want guys on the defensive side of the ball who are extremely good athletes.”
Leflore played behind Demetrius Cain last year, but still managed to get in on 15 tackles. He is the third leading returning tackler for the Lions this season.
“He is not your traditional linebacker,” Lesley said of LeFlore. “He can cover a receiver and he is also strong enough to take on a blocker and make a tackle.”
While there is no doubt that LeFlore is a natural athlete, Lesley said the sophomore’s abilities run deeper than that.
“The thing I like about Marcus is his effort,” Lesley said. “He has a work ethic that isn’t matched by anybody on our team. He is a leader by what he does. He tries to be vocal when he feels he has to be.”
LeFlore said being surrounded by superior athletes at EMCC is what makes him, and the team better.
“It is always a competition,” he said. “We go against great players in practice. It helps us get ready for the game.
“We also have a great weight room program,” he said. “That’s what helps us get prepared.”
East Mississippi is set to open the 2015 season at home on Thursday, Aug. 27 when the Lions play host to Southwest Mississippi Community College.
The Lions are currently on a 24-game winning streak and have won 44 of their last 46 games and three of the last four NJCAA National Championships. The longest winning streak in NJCAA history currently belongs to Blinn (Texas) College with 26.