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August 27, 2014
Game 1: Hutchinson vs. Bethany College JV
Thursday, August 28, 2014
At: Hutchinson, KS
Stadium: Gowans Stadium
Series Record: Hutchinson leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Hutchinson, 50-0, 2013, Lindsborg
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9); KWBW-AM (1450); KWBW-FM (89.5) - Rusty Hilst, Play-by-Play, Rob Dreher, color, Glen Grunwald, sidelines - Countdown To Kickoff - 6:30 p.m.; Pregame Airtime - 6:50 p.m.
Internet: Blue Dragon Sport Network (www.bluedragonsports.com) Free Live Videostream; Free Audio-Only Feed; Live Statistics
NJCAA Ranking: No. 11
Last Game: def. Dakota College 57-0 in 2013 Salt City Bowl
Coach: Rion Rhoades, 8th season
Last Game: def. Kansas Wesleyan, 19-18 on Nov. 4, 2013
Coach: Manny Matsakis, 2nd season
DRAGONS TO MEET BETHANY JV IN HCC FOOTBALL'S 83RD SEASON OPENER
HCC Sports Information
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Hutchinson Community College opens its 83rd season of football on Thursday when the No. 11 Blue Dragons play host to the Bethany College Junior Varsity at 7 p.m. at Gowans Stadium.
Led by eighth-year head coach Rion Rhoades, the Blue Dragon open 2014 ranked No. 11 both the NJCAA preseason poll and JC GridWire.com's Dirty 30 preseason poll. Hutchinson was picked to finish second in the 2014 Jayhawk West title chase.
Nine starters and 19 lettermen return from an 8-4 Hutchinson .team in 2013 that finished second in the Jayhawk Conference, finished as Region VI runner-up and captured a fifth-straight Salt City Bowl victory.
Thursday's opener will be only the sixth time ever that Hutchinson opens a season against a non-NJCAA affiliated team. The last time that happened was 1995 against Air Force Prep. It also happened in 1931, 1935, 1941 and 1988.
Hutchinson and Bethany JV have met only once. That came last year when HCC was forced to find an opponent to replace Air Force Prep after the Government shutdown forced the postponement of that game. HCC won the game, played on a Wednesday, 50-0 and four days later went onto defeat Independence 58-0.
The 2014 season marks a new look to the Blue Dragons' football schedule. The Jayhawk Conference and the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference join this season in a scheduling alliance where all eight Kansas teams and three Iowa teams play each other. HCC will play Iowa Western, Iowa Central and Ellsworth this season. Also, there will no longer be a Region VI playoff during this alliance.
The Blue Dragons have won six-straight season openers.
Hutchinson: Rion Rhoades is in his eighth season with the Blue Dragons. He has a 52-27 record at HCC and 59-32 in his ninth season as a head coach.
Bethany JV: Manny Matsakis is in his second season guiding the Swedes. He was 2-9 with the varsity Swedes last season and the JV program finished 3-1.
Blue Dragon Football
Blue Dragon football is 448-322-28 in 82 seasons. HCC has won six Jayhawk Conference Region VI championships (1932, 1947, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1995). HCC is 313-236-11 in Jayhawk Conference games. The Blue Dragons have 102 All-Americans in team history l HCC is now 10-6-2 all-time in bowl games.
In 82 season openers, the Blue Dragons have a record of 46-34-2. Hutchinson is 11-3 in season openers since 2000 and has won its last six after a 44-14 victory at No. 12 Coffeyville last season.
The Blue Dragons are even better in home openers, going 56-24-2 at Gowans Stadium. The Blue Dragons are 11-3 since 2000 in home openers and had won six-straight in the first games of seasons at the friendly confines of Gowans Stadium before their 2013 setback against No. 3 Navarro College.
The 2014 opener will be only the sixth time ever that Hutchinson opens a season against a non-NJCAA affiliated team. The last time that happened was 1995 against Air Force Prep. It also happened in 1931 (McPherson College), 1935 (Sterling College), 1941 (Kansas Wesleyan JV) and 1988 (Pittsburg State JV).
HCC Coaching Staff Has Several New Faces
Blue Dragon head coach Rion Rhoades brought in two new coaches and a new offensive coordinator for the 2013 season.
Taking over the offense will be assistant coach Phil Ockinga, who served as the defensive line coach last season. Dion Meneley remains as the defensive coordinator.
The two new coaches on staff are Darrell Ballard and Todd Middleton.
Ballard will be the receivers coach and the pass-game coordinator. Middleton will be the Blue Dragons' defensive line coach.
Offensive line coach Tyler Brock will also be the run-game coordinator this season. Thad Brown and Greg Cross both return for their second seasons on the Blue Dragon sideline.
Brown is the defensive backs coach, strength and conditioning coach and recruiting coordinator. Cross is HCC's quarterbacks coach.
Series History vs. Bethany College JV
This will be only the second meeting ever between Hutchinson and the Bethany College Junior Varsity.
The only other meeting came last season when Hutchinson defeated the Swedes 50-0 at Lindsborg.
Noting The Blue Dragons
+ The Blue Dragons will have nearly a completely different look at the skilled positions in 2014. The Blue Dragons will have a new starting quarterback. Both Division I transfers, Dalton Demos (Coastal Carolina) and Kylen Binn (South Carolina State) will see plenty of snaps against the Bethany JV.
+ Collectively, the 2013 Blue Dragons were a decent running team, but didn't have a truly explosive back in the group. This season that may change as HCC will roll out three quality running backs. Bradan Smith is a redshirt-freshman from Wichita Southeast. He would have been the starter last season but missed 2013 with an injury. A pair of transfers - Alvin Kamara (Alabama) and Travis Custis (Georgia Tech) - will also figure into the equation. HCC averaged 162.7 rushing yards per game, but only 3.9 yards per rush, the lowest collective total since 1992.
+ Bryce Harvey will lead a talented but largely untested group of receivers. Harvey, who was injured for the first half of 2013, had eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown last season. Also back is Jovante Siglar (13 rec., 148 yards, 1 TD).
+ The 2013 Blue Dragons offensively averaged 37.5 points and 381.6 total yards per game.
+ Defensively in 2013, HCC allowed 18.9 points per game, posting three shutouts last season. Opposing teams averaged 102.5 rushing yards and 157.2 passing yards per game.
+ A pair of all-conference defensive ends are back to lead what could be a powerful front seven in 2014. Jeremiah Ledbetter was second in tackles a year ago with 73. He had 13 tackles for loss, seven quarterback sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Marquavius Lewis totaled 63 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks with 15 QB hurries.
+ Linebacker Claude George led the Blue Dragon in 2013 with 10 quarterback sacks and 17 QB hurries. George had 56 total tackles, 16 for loss. Darius Wright returns after a season with 46 tackles and Seth Hartman, who came on strong in the final four games of 2013, also returns.
+ Riley Hunsicker is the lone returnee from what was one of the best defensive secondarys in team history in 2013. As a group, HCC had 24 interceptions and 35 total takeaways. Hunsicker 50 tackles, one interception and five passes broken up.
+ Special teams will be all new in 2014. Freshmen kickers Tymony Bonilla and Kassidy Lemons will battle for the placekicking chores. Transfer Stetson Broce is already receiving plenty of four-year attention as the Blue Dragon punter.
+ Last season, the Blue Dragons led the Jayhawk Conference in kickoff return average at 22.6 yards per return. The Dragons averaged 14.3 yards per punt return and had two punts returned for touchdowns.
Noting Bethany JV
+ Bethany College is an NAIA-affiliated school in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
+ Last season, the varsity Swedes struggled to a 2-9 overall record in 2013. The Bethany JV posted a 3-1 record, the only loss coming to Hutchinson.
+ Swedes' head coach Manny Matsakis is in his second 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.
+ Swedes' defensive coordinator Joe Gordon was at Garden City Community College last season.
+ Junior defensive back Mik Barancek played for the Blue Dragons in 2012 and 2013.
+ Bethany has a total of eight former Jayhawk Conference players on its 2014 roster.