No. 6 Blue Dragons Open At Gowans With Marquee Match Vs No. 3 Navarro

Posted 2 years ago

By Glen Grunwald

fb083013Week No. 2 of a three-week gauntlet sees the Hutchinson Community College football team in the NJCAA’s marquee matchup on Saturday at Gowans Stadium in the 2013 home opener.

The No. 6-ranked Blue Dragons play host to No. 3 Navarro College in the eighth and final Jayhawk Conference-Southwest Junior College Football Conference Challenge. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Blue Dragons have the toughest opening three weeks of any NJCAA football team with three-straight nationally ranked opponents. The Dragons opened this stretch with a solid 44-14 victory at No. 12 Coffeyville.

Defensively, HCC was dominant, forcing five takeaways that led to 20 points. HCC had 13 tackles for loss, including six QB sacks. HCC’s defense limited Coffeyville to 148 yards of total offense (31 rushing, 106 passing). The Dragons held the Ravens to four first downs and 46 yards total offense in the second half.

Navarro had a much easier time of it in its season opener with a 76-26 victory over Arkansas Baptist in Corsicana, Texas, last Saturday.

Hutchinson and Navarro met last year in the KJCCC/SWJCFC series at Corsicana. Then-No. 12 Navarro had a huge second quarter to defeat then-No. 10 Hutchinson 54-34 at Corsicana.

The Blue Dragons are 4-3 in the series with the Texas schools that started in 2006. Navarro is 5-2 in the series. This the final year of the series with Texas. Next year, the KJCCC enters a scheduling alliance with the three Iowa schools.

The Coaches
: Rion Rhoades is in his seventh season with the Blue Dragons. He has a 45-23 record at HCC and 52-28 in his eighth season as a head coach.

Navarro: Bryan Mayper is in his second season with Navarro College. He has a record of 10-2 with the Bulldogs.

Blue Dragon Football
Blue Dragon football is 440-318-28 in its first 81 years.  +  HCC has won six Jayhawk Conference Region VI championships (1932, 1947, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1995).  +  HCC is 309 -235-11 in Jayhawk Conference games.

Game 2: Hutchinson vs. Navarro
Saturday, August 31, 2013

Game Information
: Hutchinson, KS
Stadium: Gowans Stadium
Capacity: 5,500
Surface: FieldTurf
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9); KWBW-AM (1450)
Internet: Blue Dragon Sports Network

Blue Dragons
Record: 1-0
NJCAA Ranking: No. 6
Last Game: def. No. 12 Coffeyville 44-14
Coach: Rion Rhoades, 7th season

Record: 1-0
NJCAA Ranking: No. 3
Last Game: def. Arkansas Baptist 76-26
Coach: Bryan Mayper, 2nd season

Blue Dragons In The Polls
The Blue Dragons matched their highest preseason ranking in team history this season, opening at No. 6 in the NJCAA preseason poll. That matched the 2010 preseason ranking as the highest in program history.

The Blue Dragons have now been ranked for a program-record 43 consecutive polls. HCC has been ranked in 54 of the last 56 polls.

Now ranked in five-straight preseason rankings, that also sets a poll-related team record. Before this run of five-straight seasons, the most consecutive seasons HCC was picked in the preseason poll was four (1994-1997).

Under Rhoades, who is starting his seventh season, the Blue Dragons have started the previous four seasons ranked No. 13 in 2009, No. 11 in 2010, No. 6 in 2011 and No. 10 last season.

Hutchinson is also ranked No. 14 in the JC Grid’s Dirty 30 preseason poll, which includes California schools.

Season-Opening Success
In 82 season openers, the Blue Dragons have a record of 46-34-2. Hutchinson is 11-3 in seasons openers since 2000 and has won its last six after a 44-14 victory at No. 12 Coffeyville last Saturday..

The Blue Dragons are even better in home openers, going 56-23-2 at Gowans Stadium. The Blue Dragons are 11-2 since 2000 in home openers and have won six-straight in the first games of seasons at the friendly confines of Gowans Stadium.

The Blue Dragons open a season with a Jayhawk Conference opponent for the 33rd time in team history. Hutchinson is 19-13 when opening with a Jayhawk foe.

Record vs. Ranked Foes Turns Around Under Rhoades
Before Rion Rhoades came to HCC in 2007, wins against ranked opponents were rare for Blue Dragon Football.

Between 2000 and 2006, the Blue Dragons were 1-22 against nationally ranked competition. Under Rhoades, HCC has improved to 12-16.

Last season the Dragons were 2-3 against ranked competition.

This season, four ranked teams dot the Blue Dragons’ 2013 schedule. HCC’s 44-14 victory at No. 12 Coffeyville last week for a 1-0 start to 2013 vs. ranked teams.

Series History vs. Navarro
This will be only the second meeting between Hutchinson and Navarro. The Blue Dragons dropped a 54-34 decision at Navarro last season.

Hutchinson is 3-6 all time in nine games against teams from Texas. HCC’s victories over Lone Star State foes are against Tyler Junior College (15-10 in 2004 Heart of Texas Bowl) and a pair of victories over Kilgore College in 2010 and 2011.

Noting The Blue Dragons
+ Last week against Coffeyville, the Blue Dragons had some good moments and not-so-good moments against Coffeyville. HCC rushed for just 101 yards in the season opener, getting 70 yards on nine carries from Auburn transfer Mike Blakely. But the Dragons averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and did lose two fumbles.

+ Sophomore quarterback Luke Barnes was sacked five times, but still made several plays with his legs, twice breaking off career-best runs of 20 and 23 yards. Barnes completed 28 of 46 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns.

+ With Barnes throwing to an entirely new corps of receivers, East Carolina transfer Jabril Soloman caught eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Blakely caught seven passes for 75 yards out of the backfield and Chris Murray caught six for 30 yards and a 12-yard score.

+ The Dragon defense had a spectacular effort in holding the Red Ravens to 31 rushing yards and 117 passing yards. Coffeyville had just four first downs and 46 yards in the second half. HCC forced five turnovers and had six quarterback sacks among 13 tackles for loss.

+ Sophomore transfer Jaylon Myers tied a school record with three interceptions. Sophomores Shattle Fenteng and Brock Long both had fumble recoveries.

+ Sophomore cornerback Christian Goodlett tied a school record with six passes broken up against the Red Ravens.

+ Freshman kicker Ryan Weese had a tremendous Blue Dragon debut with a perfect mark on eight placement kicks. Weese was 5 of 5 on extra points and 3 of 3 on field goals from distances of 27, 31 and 28 yards. Weese’s 27-yard field goal gave HCC a 10-7 lead in the second quarter and his 31 yarder upped the Dragon lead to 13-7 at halftime. Weese was named the Week 1 Jayhawk Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.

+ Freshman Chris Murray caught a 12-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring from Coffeyville. Murray then turned in the momentum-changing play in the third quarter when he returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown to give HCC a 27-7 lead.

+ Sophomore linebacker Brock Long had 10 or more tackles for the fifth-straight game and for the 6th time in the last 7 games dating back to last year. Long finished with 10 tackles.

+ Getting his first career start, sophomore linebacker Zack Weekley had a career-high eight tackles, including two tackles for loss.

Noting Navarro
+ Navarro has posted a 62-10 record in the last six-plus years, which includes six NJCAA Top 5 finishes, five-straight bowl victories and three-consecutive SWJCFC championships.

+ The Bulldogs had little problem in their season-opening battle last Saturday, a 76-26 victory over Arkansas Baptist. The 76 points scored were a school record that was 61 years old.

+ Navarro pulled up some staggering offensive numbers, including 352 yards on the ground and another 235 through the air. The Bulldogs did not turn the ball over in the season opener and posted 25 first downs.

+ Defensively, the Bulldogs allowed just 32 yards on the ground and 273 yards overall to Arkansas Baptist.

+ Quarterback Josh Greer had an effective night with 10 of 14 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

+ Cameron Washington led Navarro rushers with 105 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. Tyrone Carter had four catches for 135 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown reception.

+ Navarro had two defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown in its season-opening rout. Alex Miller ran an interception back 64 yards for a score and Sherman Gilbert took his pick 34 yards to the end zone. Mikechell Potts turned in a dazzling 90-yard punt return for a touchdown.

+ Linebacker Dominique Kelly had 11 tackles, three TFLs and two QB sacks.

KJCCC/SWJCFC Challenge Enters Eighth And Final Season
Similar to the Big 10-ACC challenge in basketball, members of the Jayhawk Conference and the Southwest Junior College Football Conference have come up with a junior college football challenge.

The two powerful junior college football conferences contested their eighth and final challenge this weekend.

Texas won the challenge in 2012, going 5-3 against the Jayhawk conference. In 2011, Hutchinson had the only KJCCC victory as Texas went 7-1 against the Jayhawk.

The Texas schools lead the overall series 31-19.

The Jayhawk Conference for the first time won a season series from the SWJCFC, winning four of seven games. In 2010, Hutchinson, Coffeyville, Garden City and Butler came away with victories.

Hutchinson is 4-3 in the series, winning four-straight games before Navarro ended the streak last season.

HCC went 0-2 vs. Tyler, 2-0 vs. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 2-0 vs. Kilgore and 0-1 vs. Navarro in the series.

Southeast Texas Prep will be the eighth team for the SWJCFC. Ranger College dropped football after the 2006 season. Since, Georgia Military, Arkansas Baptist and Iowa Western have filled out the field in past seasons.

The KJCCC/SWJCFC Challenge Series comes to an end this season as the Jayhawk Conference enters a new scheduling alliance with the Iowa Conference beginning in 2014.

(HCC Sports Information)


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