The Hutchinson Community College football team will look to keep pace in the Jayhawk Conference on Saturday night as the Blue Dragons return to conference play when the Independence Pirates come to Gowans Stadium for a 7 p.m. Homecoming kickoff.
The No. 12-nationally ranked Blue Dragons (5-1 overall) trail No. 2 Butler by one-half game entering play on Saturday. After Independence, the Blue Dragons travel to Fort Scott before the Oct. 27 showdown with the Grizzlies. Butler is off this week and will play host to Coffeyville next Saturday in El Dorado.
The Blue Dragons come off an impressive 66-7 victory last Saturday over Air Force Prep. For the second time this season, the Blue Dragons eclipsed the team single-game total offense record by racking up 724 total yards.
Quarterback Luke Barnes, for the second time this season, tied the team record for touchdown passes in a game with six and broke the 2,000-yard mark for the season.
Running back Terrell Lane had his sixth-straight 100-yard game, going for 184 yards and three touchdowns. He is just 24 yards shy of becoming the 16th Blue Dragon running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, the first since 2009.
Barnes continues to lead the NJCAA in passing at 342.7 yards per game and Lane continues to lead the nation in rushing at 162.7 yards per game.
The Pirates come into Saturday’s game after losing 54-17 to Fort Scott last weekend. The Pirates are 3-4 overall, but just 1-4 in Jayhawk Conference play.
Independence boasts the Jayhawk Conference’s third-leading rusher in Christobal Dinham (121.5 yards per game). Pirate quarterback Kaylon Cooper is a run-pass threat. He averages 320.8 total yards per game.
The Pirates have been giving up a lot of points in 2012. Indy is allowing 42 points per game and has given up 50 or more points three different times.
Last season, the Blue Dragons handed the Pirates the worst loss in series history, a 70-0 triumph in which the Blue Dragons rolled up 557 total yards with 377 coming on the ground.
At halftime on Saturday night, in addition to 2012 Homecoming royalty being crowned, the Blue Dragons will honor Galen Haaga, a former player from Douglas who died this summer in an automobile accident in Wichita.
Hutchinson: Rion Rhoades is in his sixth season with the Blue Dragons. His HCC record is 40-21 in his sixth season at Hutchinson and is 47-26 in seven overall seasons. On Sept. 8 against Garden City, Rhoades surpassed Bill Goldsmith for third place on the HCC coaching wins list.
Independence: Steve Carson is in his third season leading the Pirates. He is 7-19 at Independence, leading the Pirates to the 2010 Region VI playoffs.
About the Blue Dragons
Offense: The numbers continue to pile up for the Blue Dragon offense in 2012. HCC has the individual passing and rushing leader and the No. 2 total offense and No. 3 scoring offense in the NJCAA.
Freshman Luke Barnes is completing 65.0 percent of his passes (156 of 240) for 2,056 yards. He has thrown 25 touchdown passes to two interceptions. Barnes has completed at least 16 passes to five different receivers this season.
Sophomore Antonio Johnson has a team-high 41 catches for 481 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore Jatavius Stewart, returned last week after missing a week, has 35 receptions for 567 yards and eight scores. Sophomore Miguel Johns has 32 catches for a team-high 592 yards and five TDs.
Lane has posted six-straight 100-yard games this season, coming off a 184-yard, three-touchdown game last week against Air Force Prep. Lane now has 976 yards on 150 carries. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and has 11 rushing touchdowns.
Freshman Orange Mooney has been solid over the last three games. He is now averaging 46.4 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.
The Blue Dragons are averaging 52.5 points per game, 29.2 first downs, 224.3 rushing yards, 354.8 passing yards and 579.2 total yards per game.
Three different Blue Dragons are averaging 124 or more all-purpose yards this season. Lane averages 180.0 yards per game; Stewart averages 167.2 and Johns averages 124.5. Johnson is just shy of 100, averaging 93.8 all-purpose yards per game.
Defense: After three rough outings to start the season, the Blue Dragon defense has shown tremendous improvement in victories over Dodge City, Highland and Air Force Prep.
In HCC’s first three games, the defense was stung for averages of 43.0 points, 212.0 rushing yards and 271.7 passing yards per game. Over the last three games, the Blue Dragons have surrendered averages of 9.7 points, 94.3 rushing yards, 124.3 passing yards and 218.7 total yards per game.
Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has 55 total tackles to lead Hutchinson. Linebacker Kenny Flowers has 51 and linebacker Aaron Jackson had 47 tackles.
Freshman cornerback Terell Hannah has 27 total tackles and four interceptions, which is tied for third in the NJCAA. He also has two fumble recoveries and two passes defended.
Sophomore Carnell Simon has team highs of 3.5 quarterback sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Special Teams: Michael Mesh continues his sizzling start to his sophomore season. In six games, Mesh has totaled 61 points to move into third place on the HCC career scoring list. He is 37 of 39 on extra points and is 8 of 9 on field goals, knocking through a career-long 43-yarder against Navarro on Sept. 1.
Mesh has already surpassed his FG total of last season and is 12 of 16 in his career.
Terrell Lane and Luke Barnes are splitting the punting chores. Lane is averaging 43.9 yards per boot and Barnes is averaging 36.8 yards per punt.
Four different Blue Dragons are averaging better than 20 yards per kickoff return. Jatavius Stewart leads at 23.5 yards per return with a long of 62 yards. Kody Cook is averaging 21.8 yards per return and Antonio Johnson is averaging 20.5 yards per return and Johns is averaging 21.7 per return.
Johns has one punt return for a touchdown and leads at 17.2 yards per punt return.
About the Pirates
Offense: The Pirates are fourth in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring at 28.0 points per game. They also rank fourth in the league in total offense (348.6 yards per game), fourth in rushing (210.3 ypg) and seventh in passing (149.3 ypg).
The offense is triggered by run-pass threat Kaylon Cooper, who is fifth in the Jayhawk Conference in passing at 149.3 yards per game, but ninth in the league in rushing at 58.7 yards per game. He had a 347-yard total offense game against Garden City on Aug. 25, rushing for 176 against the Broncbusters.
Christobal Dinham is the conference’s third-leading rusher with 749 total yards and nine touchdowns. He has a high of 174 yards against Dodge City on Sept. 29.
Receiver Freeman Dozier is the sixth-leading receiver in the Jayhawk Conference. He has caught 35 passes for 542 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Pirates have had a problem with giveaways, totaling 11 in all. The Pirates have fumbled 16 times overall and eight have been lost.
Defense: Independence is allowing 42 points per game, which ranks seventh in the Jayhawk Conference. The Pirates have allowed 50 or more points three times this season.
The Pirates rank last in the league in total defense at 480.1 yards per game, eighth in rushing defense at 228.0 points per game and eighth in pass defense at 252.1 yards per game.
T.J. Reynard leads the Pirates with 75 total tackles (48 unassisted). He had five passes broken up and one interception. Lawson Short has 55 total tackles and a conference leading five interceptions. Tommy Dover has a team-high 15 tackles for loss.
The Pirates have forced 14 takeaways (10 fumbles, 4 interceptions).
Special Teams: Placekicker Ross Heide has connected on 23 of 25 extra points this season, but has not attempted a field goal yet.
Jake Scott has punted 30 times for an average of 32.7 yards per punt. He has placed four inside the 20-yard line and has had one blocked. Heide has punted 12 times for an average of 32.3 yards per punt.
DeVante Clark is Independence’s top kickoff return man. He has returned 21 kickoffs for an average of 16.3 yards per return with a 92-yard touchdown. Clark also averages 28.4 yards per punt return with a touchdown.
This is the 76th meeting all-time between Hutchinson and Independence in a series that dates back to 1930. The Blue Dragons lead the series 49-21-5.
Hutchinson leads the series in games played at Gowans Stadium 30-8-2 and the series and 19-13-3 in games played at Independence. HCC has a 3-0 lead in playoff meetings.
HCC defeated Independence 70-0 last season for its sixth-straight win in the series.
+ HCC FOOTBALL ALL-TIME: The Blue Dragons have an all-time football record of 435-316-28 in their 81st year of football. HCC is 306-234-18 in Jayhawk Conference games.
+ BLUE DRAGONS IN THE NJCAA POLL: The Blue Dragons are ranked 12th in the NJCAA football poll this week. HCC football has been ranked in 35 consecutive and 44 of the last 46 NJCAA football polls.
+ HCC VS. RANKED FOES: Hutchinson is now 11-14 against NJCAA-ranked competition under Rion Rhoades. Previous, HCC dropped 22 of 23 to ranked teams.
+ HIGH-SCORING DRAGONS: In the last 41 games, Hutchinson has broken the 50-point mark 16 times. The Dragons have broken the 60-point mark 10 times, the 70-point mark three times and own the modern-day single-game scoring record of 90 points, scored against Highland last season.
+ HCC IN THE RED ZONE: Last week against Air Force Prep, the Blue Dragons were 4 of 4 in Red Zone scoring opportunities. HCC is now 24 of 25 in the Red Zone, scoring 19 touchdowns.
+ LANE HITTING CENTURY MARK: Running back Terrell Lane has six-straight 100-yard rushing games this season. Lane had one 100-yard game as a freshman.
+ DRAGONS ENJOY HOME COOKING: Since the start of 2008, the Blue Dragons have a 23-3 record at Gowans Stadium.
(HCC Sports Information)