The No. 9 Hutchinson Community College head coach Rion Rhoades coaches in his 50th game with the Blue Dragons as HCC plays at Garden City on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Garden City.
As the regular season enters the critical final three weeks, the Blue Dragons (5-1, 3-0) look to maintain their claim to the top spot in the Jayhawk Conference. The three-week round robin begins on Saturday with No. 11 Coffeyville playing at No. 5 Butler. HCC and Butler meet next Saturday and Hutch and Coffeyville close out the regular season in two weeks.
HCC comes off its fifth 60-plus point game of the season in a 69-6 victory over Dodge City last Saturday at Gowans Stadium.
The Broncbusters (1-5, 1-2) have had two weeks to prepare for the Blue Dragons. Garden City dropped a 37-0 decision to Butler two weeks ago in El Dorado.
HCC has won the last three games against Garden City, including a 27-3 win last season.
Hutchinson: Rion Rhoades is in his fifth season with the Blue Dragons. He is 31-18 at HCC and 38-23 overall in his sixth season as a collegiate head coach.
Garden City: Jeff Tatum is in his 1st season at Garden City. He is 1-5- with the Broncbusters.
Internet Video/Audio: The game will be streamed live on the Blue Dragon Sports Network at www.bluedragonsports.com. Airtime is 6:50 p.m. There will also be an audio-only stream.
Radio: Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and KWBW-AM (1450) will have the game live with Rusty Hilst (play-by-play), Rob Dreher (analysis) and Glen Grunwald (sidelines) calling the action at 6:50 p.m.
Live Stats: Real-time game statistics will be available at kickoff on www.bluedragonsports.com.
BLUE DRAGON FOOTBALL GAME DAY
NO. 9 HUTCHINSON (5-1, 3-0) AT GARDEN CITY (1-5, 1-2)
When: Saturday, October 15, 2011
At: Memorial Stadium, Garden City, KS
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9); KWBW-AM (1450), 6:50 p.m.
Internet Video/Audio: Blue Dragon Sports Network
Live Stats: available at kickoff (link)
About the 2011 Blue Dragons
The Blue Dragons continue to put up jaw-dropping numbers entering the final third of the 2011 regular season.
Hutchinson continues to be the NJCAA scoring leader at 59.8 points per game and is sixth in the nation in total offense at 502.2 yards per game.
HCC has topped the 60-point mark five times in six games and last week’s 63-point output was only the fourth-best scoring total of the season.
Coming off his third Jayhawk Conference Player of the Week award, HCC quarterback Elliott Alford continues to set a scintillating pace for the Blue Dragons. Alford is fourth in the nation in passing accuracy at 68 percent (85 of 125) for 1,347 yards with 19 touchdown passes and only one interception. Last week against Dodge City, Alford completed passes to eight different receivers and threw for four TD passes.
Last week, All-American Cordarrelle Patterson became the Blue Dragons career receptions leader. He has a team-high 31 receptions for 516 yards and eight touchdowns. All totaled, Patterson has accounted for 984 all-purpose yards (176 rushing, 516 receiving, 292 on kickoff returns) and 12 touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Deveon Dinwiddie is HCC’s leading rusher. Coming off a career-high four touchdowns last week, Dinwiddie is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 87.2 yards per game (524 yards on 83 carries) with 10 touchdowns. Terrell Lane has 234 yards on 50 carries and five scores. HCC has 27 rushing touchdowns in five games.
Defensively, the overall numbers for the Blue Dragons aren’t stellar, but the HCC defensive unit continues to come up with big plays.
Last week, the Dragons intercepted three passes, including sophomore safety Spencer Vanderbogart returning a pick 47 yards for a touchdown.
Sophomore safety Duane Sims leads the Blue Dragons with 58 tackles. Linebacker Tim Edmond is second with 45 tackles.
HCC is allowing 19.7 points, 173.3 rushing yards, 149.5 passing yards and 322.8 total yards per game. The Blue Dragons have forced 16 turnovers. Khambrel Garland and Sims are tied for fourth in the Jayhawk Conference with two interceptions each.
On special teams, punter Kody Cook leads the Jayhawk conference and is 10th in the nation at 41.0 yards per punt. Kicker Michael Mesh is 45 of 50 on extra points and 0-1 on field goals. Patterson continues to lead the Jayhawk in kickoff returns at 48.7 yards per return. Jatavious Stewart is second in punt returns at 19.7 yards per return.
Scouting Garden City
The Broncbusters find themselves heading into Saturday’s game with Hutchinson on a three-game losing streak to the Blue Dragons and a four-game skid overall.
The Busters are 1-5 under first-year coach Jeff Tatum. They have had two weeks to prepare for the Blue Dragons. Over their four-game losing streak, the Busters have been outscored 144-53.
Garden City has had its offensive struggles this season. The Busters were shut out by No. 7 Butler two weeks ago and have been held to 14 points or less in 4 of 6 games.
The Busters are averaging 14.5 points per game. They are averaging 112.8 yards rushing, 155.3 yards passing and 268.2 yards of total offense per game.
Rashard Burkette is Garden City’s starting quarterback. He is completing only 40 percent of his passes (65 of 163) for 914 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Andrew Pitts is Garden City’s leading rusher with 389 yards on 105 carries and a team-high four touchdowns. Burkette has run the ball 66 times for 225 yards.
Charles Payne is the top receiver. He has caught 27 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Cook has 20 receptions for 291 yards and one score. Pitts has caught nine passes out of the backfield for 172 yards and two TDs.
Garden City’s defensive unit has been a strength this season, although the Busters have surrendered 75 points in the last two games.
Overall, the Busters are allowing an average of 26.7 points, 236.3 rushing yards, 155.3 yards passing and 391.7 yards of total offense per game.
Linebacker Chaz Nelson leads Garden City’s defense with 60 total tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and a conference-leading 6.5 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles. Deilouse Jackson has 49 tackles.
Series History vs. Garden City
This will be the 70th meeting between Hutchinson and Garden City in a series that dates back to 1947.
The Blue Dragons trail in the all-time series 32-37. After dropping 13 of 15 to Garden City, the Dragons have won off three-straight games, including a 27-3 victory last season at Gowans Stadium.
The Dragons are 16-15 in games played in Hutchinson and are 16-2 in games played in Garden City. The Broncbusters have a 5-1 postseason edge on Hutchinson. The only victory in the postseason came in the 1995 Jayhawk Conference championship game.
Blue Dragons In National Polls
The Blue Dragons remained in the Top 10 of the NJCAA Top 10 this week, remaining at No. 9 in the latest poll.
HCC started the season ranked No. 6, but losses by No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast and No. 3 Butler aided a climb to No. 3. A loss to Air Force Prep in Week 3 saw an 11-spot drop in the polls.
With the ranking, the Blue Dragons have now been ranked in 23 consecutive and 32 of the last 34 NJCAA football polls, the longest run as a ranked team since the mid-1990s, when it spent time in 29 consecutive polls. The Blue Dragons had also been ranked in the Top 10 for 13 consecutive NJCAA polls.
Last season, the Blue Dragons started No. 11, climbed to as high as No. 2 – their highest ranking ever in the NJCAA poll – before finishing at No. 5 after a 10-2 season in which HCC finished second in the Jayhawk Conference, was Region VI runner-up and won its second-straight Salt City Bowl.
This is the third-straight year under head coach Rion Rhoades that the Blue Dragons have started a season ranked in the NJCAA preseason poll. Two seasons ago, HCC started the season ranked 13th.
The highest ranking for HCC in any poll came in 1996 when JC Gridwire ranked the Blue Dragons No. 1 for one week.