Busters still sailing ahead without Miller at helm
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
"We want to win one for the gipper," said Garden City Community College football team's defensive coordinator Jeff Kelly.
With head coach Matt Miller still sidelined with an illness, the Busters have been practicing all week without their "gipper" at the helm. For Kelly, that's just added motivation for the Busters (3-1, 1-1) to put on a strong performance and walk out of Frary Field on Saturday in Fort Scott with a victory over the winless but scrappy Greyhounds (0-5, 0-3). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
"They've stepped up tremendously," said Kelly about his players. "We all have had to step it up (without Miller). We try not to miss a beat. Our commander-in-chief is down right now. Hopefully, he's back (soon), but we got to keep rolling. That's just the name of the game."
The "name of the game" also changed dramatically for the Busters last Saturday. As they were completing their dramatic comeback win over Air Force Prep, the vaunted Butler Grizzlies allowed a last-second touchdown against Highland to lose at home for the first time since 2005. Butler's loss also meant no team in the KJCCC is undefeated in conference play, leaving the Busters, who slipped at Hutchinson on Sept. 7, with one loss alongside five other Jayhawk teams.
When asked if that added some extra motivation to the Busters, Kelly said, "Of course." He mentioned that when a team like Butler loses, it gives more opportunities to other teams in the conference to win a regular season title, despite slipping up elsewhere.
Offensive coordinator Merci Falaise, though, had a different viewpoint.
"Truthfully, I haven't even thought about (Butler's loss)," the interim head of the offense said. "I've just been worrying about preparing and watching film on (Fort Scott.)"
Both coaches vehemently agreed that both players and coaches were not overlooking winless Fort Scott despite a monumental matchup with Butler quickly approaching only seven days later.
"Our kids haven't said a word (about Butler)," Kelly said. "They know the mission at hand. We're on a mission and that mission is one town at a time."
Both coaches said that despite Fort Scott's 0-5 record, the Greyhounds are going to be a tough team to beat.
"They're a good football team," said Kelly. "They have some good athletes. They've been in every game they've played except one.
"They're going to be right there. They're not going to be a team that we can take lightly. We're preaching to our guys, 'this team is a good, good football team.'"
The Greyhounds have lost by margins of 17, 23, 38, 23 and 1 so far. In last week's 37-36 loss to No. 15 Dodge City, it took a fourth-quarter score from the Conquistadors to pull out the win, leaving the Greyhounds still winless.
To Greyhound head coach Curtis Horton, it was just another learning experience for a young team.
"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing," the third-year head coach said. "We just compete against ourselves and get better every week."
The Greyhounds return only one starter on defense, 6-foot-3 defensive end Demetrius Hill, and two on offense, 6-6 Kareem Are and 6-4 Spencer Gatewood, both on the offensive line.
Hill is leading the team with 35 tackles, six for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He's listed as a three-star recruit with several Division-I offers.
He's part of a talented defensive front for the Greyhounds, joining 6-5, 310-pound freshman defensive lineman Abu Lamin, who is committed to play at South Carolina as a four-star recruit.
Lamin is one of a crop of starting freshmen for the Greyhounds as they only have 18 sophomores on the entire roster, leaving the Greyhounds as the youngest squad in the Jayhawk.
"Obviously, you can tell that we're extremely young," said Horton. "We've got a lot of freshmen that are talented but extremely raw, so hopefully they get better each week and that pays dividends down the road."
On offense, Horton would like to be a well-balanced team, splitting rushes and passes equally. They have been pretty close so far this season, rushing 238 times for 805 yards, with freshman JoNathan Alford leading the way with 125 carries and 510 yards, a 4-yard per carry average. Through the air, sophomore Jason Stewart has gone 104 of 189 for 1,229 and eight touchdowns.
Stewart has had two main targets, sophomore running back Chevelle Buie, who has 41 receptions for 469 yards and two TDs. Second in receptions is 6-3, 210-pound sophomore receiver Jared Dangerfield, who has hauled in 30 balls for 420 yards and four scores.
The Greyhounds are averaging 411 yards and 29.2 points per game thus far. Unfortunately, their attacking 4-3 defense, despite all the talent on the front line, is giving up 501 yards and 49.6 points per game. Those numbers might not get any better with Akeem "Freak" Jones and the Buster offense coming into town.
Jones seemed to have a breakout game against Air Force Prep last week, leading the Busters on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including a march of 91 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play.
He finished the game 30-of-49 passing for 413 yards and all five of the Busters' TDs.
It was by far Jones' best statistical performance, especially considering he threw no interceptions.
With that performance, Garden City is now averaging 40.3 points per game, while only giving up 22.3.
"They're good football players," said Fort Scott's Horton of the Busters. "Anytime you have great football players, I don't know if you can contain or control them. You just hope to minimize the big plays."
The Busters will gain one of their stalwart defenders who they were missing against Air Force Prep. D'vonta Derricott, the K-State commitment at middle linebacker, was serving a one-game suspension for targeting against Hutchinson. The sophomore will be back for the game against Fort Scott.
"As a D-coordinator, it makes me smile (to have Derricott back), because he is a tremendous athlete and he does get things done," said Kelly.
The Busters will still be without sophomore defensive lineman Ralphael Bernard, who will be serving the latter half of his two-game suspension for throwing punches, also during the game in Hutchinson.
"We got to make due," said Kelly about missing Bernard. "It's kind of like a coach not being there. We've just got to keep rolling."
Know the foe
Who: Garden City CC at Fort Scott CC
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Frary Field, Fort Scott
Last Meeting: 2012, Garden City 42, Air Force Prep 13
Series Record: Fort Scott 29-27
First Meeting: 1963, Garden City 21, Fort Scott 14
Largest Margin of victory: 2004, Garden City 55, Fort Scott 7
Garden City (3-1, 1-1)
League: Jayhawk Conference
Mascot: Broncbusters (Brown and White)
Coach: Matt Miller, (1st year)
Probable Starting Lineup:
T--Dontavious Blair, 6-7, 275, So.; Ryan Johnson, 6-5, 330, So.
G--Mitch Moore, 6-2, 275, Fr.; Colby Hamel, 6-3, 305, So.
C--Jason Carreon, 6-2, 295, So.
TE--Alan Kramer, 6-2, 215, So.
WR--Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.; Brandon Snell, 6-1, 205, Fr.
HB--Tyreek Hill, 5-9, 190, So.; Mike Gerst, 5-11, 205, So.
QB--Akeem Jones, 6-3, 207, Fr.
PK--Tyler Peterson, 5-11, 180, So.
E--Richard Obi, 6-3, 255, So.; Brandon Salmans, 6-1, 215, Fr.
N--Dondre Elvoid, 6-4, 315, Fr.
MLB--Errol Clarke, 6-3, 240, Fr.; D'vonta Derricott, 6-2, 235, So.
OLB--Dalton Gantz, 6-0, 210, Fr.; Darius Jones, 6-2, 230, So.
CB--Wonderful Terry, 5-10, 180, So.; Tim Hill, 5-9, 190, Fr.
S--Sam Green, 6-2, 210, Fr.; Makail Grace, 6-3, 205, Fr.
P--Tyler Peterson, 5-11, 180, So.
KR--Tyreek Hill, 5-9, 190, So.; Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.
PR--Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.
Aug. 24--INDEPENDENCE, W 67-0*
Aug. 31--at Cisco, Texas, W 35-21
Sept. 7--at Hutchinson, L 34-24*
Sept. 21--AIR FORCE PREP, W 35-34
Sept. 28--at Fort Scott*
Oct. 19--at Dodge City*
*--Denotes Jayhawk Conference game
Fort Scott (0-3, 0-5)
League: Jayhawk Conference
Mascot: Greyhounds (Maroon and Grey)
Coach: Curtis Horton (3rd year, 8-14)
Probable Starting Lineup:
OL--Kareem Are, 6-6, 320, So.; Spencer Gatewood, 6-2, 315, Fr.; Dakota Taylor, 6-3, 290, Fr.
TE--Walker Evans, 6-3, 240, Fr.
WR--Jared Dangerfield, 5-10, 175, So.; Jornell Fondren, 6-0, 190, So.
RB--JoNathan Alford, 6-0, 210, Fr.; Chevelle Buie, 5-10, 175, So.
QB--Jason Stewart, 6-3, 215, So.
PK--Carlos Chavez, 5-11, 165, So.
E--Demtrius Hill, 6-3, 255, So.; Justin Cantrell, 6-4, 245, So.
DT--Abu Lamin, 6-5, 310, Fr.; Marion Holmes, 6-0, 295, So.
OLB--Jeffrey Cameron, 6-0, 210, So.
MLB--Luke Elam, 6-0, 210, Fr.
CB--James Gray, 6-1, 200, Fr.; Terry McMillion, 6-2, 195, Fr.
S--Quitin Sparkman, 5-10, 185, So.; Vontavious Williams, 6-2, 215, So.
P--Matt Vincent, 5-10, 170, Fr.
Aug. 24--HIGHLAND, L 48-31
Aug. 31--Tyler (Texas) JC, L 49-26
Sept. 7--BUTLER, L 52-14
Sept. 14--Coffeyville, L 62-39
Sept. 21--Dodge City, L 37-36
Sept. 28--GARDEN CITY
Oct. 26--Arkansas Baptist College