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October 8, 2013At: Lindsborg, KS
Stadium: Anderson Stadium/Lindstrom Field
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9); KWBW-AM (1450), 7 p.m. (tape delay)
Internet: Blue Dragon Sports Network, 3:50 p.m. (live)
Live Stats: Available at kickoff
Admission: $6 adults; $2 non-Bethany students
NJCAA Ranking: Rec. Votes
Last Game: Def. Highland 36-20
Coach: Rion Rhoades, 7th season
NAIA Ranking: unranked
Last Game: Def. Concordia University 26-24
Coach: Manny Matsakis, 1st season
BLUE DRAGONS TRAVEL TO BETHANY JV FOR RARE MID-WEEK CONTEST
The Hutchinson Community College football team is right in the midst of one of the strangest stretches in team history. The latest twist will take place on Wednesday when the Blue Dragons travel to Lindsborg, Kan., to take on the Bethany College Junior Varsity at 4 p.m. at Bethany's Anderson Stadium/Lindstrom Field.
Wednesday's game will be the first of two over a four-day span for the Blue Dragons. Hutchinson will travel to Independence on Saturday night for that regularly scheduled contest.
The first sign that strange things were about to occur came on Oct. 1 when the United States government went into a partial shutdown. So how did that affect the Blue Dragons?
HCC was supposed to travel to Colorado Springs last Saturday to play at Air Force Prep. As of noon last Thursday, the game was still on. Then, HCC Director of Athletics Randy Stange received a call from AFP, telling him that Prep's athletic program was suspended until the shutdown is resolved.
That's where the Bethany JV comes into play in this screwy scenario. From the time work came down that the Prep game was off, the Blue Dragon coaching staff frantically searched for a replacement when the NJCAA deemed the Prep game not a forfeit, but a canceled game.
NJCAA football teams need six regular-season victories to be bowl eligible. At 3-2, HCC would have had to run the table against Independence, Fort Scott and Butler. Thus the process went forward to find another opponent to fill Prep's Week 6 slot.
The Bethany JV is 1-0 entering play on Wednesday, defeating the Concordia (Neb.) University JV 26-24 on Monday.
Hutchinson: Rion Rhoades is in his seventh season with the Blue Dragons. He has a 47-25 record at HCC and 54-30 in his eighth season as a head coach.
Bethany JV: Manny Matsakis is in his first season guiding the Swedes.
Series History vs. NAIA Teams
This will be Hutchinson's first-ever meeting with Bethany College in football.
This will be only the 16th time in 81-plus seasons of football that the Blue Dragons will take on an NAIA opponent, whether it be varsity or junior varsity.
The last time that HCC played an NAIA foe came in 1988 when the Dragons defeated the Pittsburg State JV 21-0. The next year, Pitt State moved to Division II.
HCC is 13-2 all-time vs. NAIA competition. The only losses came in 1929 and 1934.
Noting The Blue Dragons
+ Through five games, the Blue Dragons are third in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring at 32.8 points per game. HCC ranks sixth in the league in rushing offense (144.8 ypg), fifth in passing offense (218.2 ypg) and sixth in total offense (363.0 ypg).
+ Sophomore quarterback Luke Barnes, who now owns 13 Blue Dragon passing record, is completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,091 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Against Highland, he throw for 300 or more yards for the sixth time in his career.
+ Freshman Chris Murray comes off a school-record 13 receptions against Highland for a career-high 207 receiving yards. He has a team-high 29 catches for 292 yards and four TDS. Jabril Soloman has a team-high 341 receiving yards on 18 receptions and three touchdowns. Out of the backfield, Mike Blakely has 16 catches for 157 yards.
+ The Blue Dragon running game has improved dramatically, going for 359 yards over the last three games compared to an average of 94 yards in weeks 1 and 2. HCC had 184 rushing yards against Highland. Freshman Chase Abbington had his first career 100-yard game with 122 vs. Dodge City. He leads HCC on the ground with 258 yards on 62 carries and two TDs. The Blue Dragons are averaging just 3.7 yards per carry so far this season. Mike Blakely, who missed the Dodge City game with the flu, has 197 yards on 40 carries and two TDs.
+ Defensively, the Blue Dragons have been up and down. Through five games, HCC is fourth in the Jayhawk Conference in defensive scoring average at 27.8 points per game allowed. HCC ranks fourth in total defense at 338.2 yards allowed per game. HCC is third in rushing defense (118.6 ypg) and sixth in passing defense (219.6 ypg).
+ The Blue Dragons have forced 15 takeaways (11 interceptions, 4 fumbles) this season. The 11 interceptions are tied for sixth nationally.
+ Sophomore transfer Jaylon Myers leads the NJCAA in interceptions with six. He tied a school record for three picks against Coffeyville on Aug. 24 and had two picks against Highland on Sept. 28. Sophomore Christian Goodlett is one of 24 NJCAA players tied for ninth nationally with three interceptions.
+ HCC's defense has 13 quarterback sacks through five games. Freshman Jeremiah Ledbetter has 3.0 sacks. Sophomore linebacker Michael Peek and freshman defensive end Marquavius Lewis has 2.5 sacks each.
+ Sophomore linebacker Brock Long has a team-high 46 tackles. Sophomore cornerback Christian Goodlett is second with 33 tackles. He tied a school record with six passes broken up against Coffeyville on Aug. 24.
+ Freshman kicker Ryan Weese continued his strong start. Weese 9 of 10 on field goals, making nine straight to start the season. Weese's season high is 38 yards against Highland on Sept. 28. He is 17 of 19 on extra-point tries. Weese has also been strong on kickoffs with four touchbacks and an opponent's starting average of its own 24-yard line.
+ HCC's return teams have been strong. HCC's kickoff returns have averaged a league-leading 26.1 yards per attempt with six going for 30 yards or better. HCC's punt return team is averaging 16.2 yards per return. Chris Murray has a 78-yard return for a touchdown this season.
Noting Bethany JV
+ The Bethany JV had their first game of the season on Sept. 2 against McPherson College canceled. The Swedes defeated Concordia University on Monday 26-24 at Lindsborg.
+ Bethany College is an NAIA affiliated school in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Bethany's varsity team is currently 1-4 and 0-3 in the KCAC.
+ Swedes' head coach Manny Matsakis is in his first season in Lindsborg. He has experience coaching from high school to Kansas State University to the CFL. Matsakis was also the head coach at Emporia State University.