Jayhawk Conference loaded with upper-end talent
By TONY JIMENEZ
Special to The Telegram
If ever the other seven conference teams are going to bring Butler down from its lofty plateau — the No. 1 program in the National JC Athletic Association since 2000 (based on final polls) — now is the time, according to Dick Foster, the No. 3 winningest coach (percentage wise) in Kansas (144-25-2/.848) at Coffeyville/Fort Scott (1969-88). Foster, who is retired, is just behind No. 1 Troy Morrell of Butler (137-17/.890, 2000-12). Said Foster of Butler, which has but three returning starters: "It may not happen, though, because they don't play the best teams until later in the season (Oct. 5 at Garden City, Oct. 19 at Coffeyville, Oct. 26 in El Dorado against Hutchinson), and by then those inexperienced players will be experienced."
Coffeyville will have quarterback Drew Davis - his father Butch is well-known on the four-year school circuit and was fired just before pre-season practice started at North Carolina in 2011 - to call on this season. The younger Davis red-shirted last season as a walk-on for the Tar Heels. He threw for 3,525 yards and 30 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior at East Chapel Hill, N.C., high school in 2011.
Gary Thomas of Dodge City and Matt Miller of Garden City are the new head coaches in the conference.
Thomas will have his hands full at Dodge City, 50 miles east of Garden City, in western Kansas. The Conquistadors were winless last season (0-9) and are 6-40 the past five seasons. Said Thomas, who coached at DuPage, Ill., last season: "We feel if we can stay healthy and withstand the growing pains in the first part of the schedule we should have an opportunity to be as competitive as any team in the country on any given day."
Miller was the starting quarterback for Kansas State (1995) and worked under legendary Bill Snyder as an assistant coach for 10 seasons (1996-2006) where he played a big role in recruiting Darren Sproles (New Orleans Saints) to K-State. He was Garden City's offensive coordinator last season. Miller's coaching staff's NCAA Division 1 experience is plentiful. They have been at Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina St. and other name schools. Said Miller: "This experience is invaluable at the junior college level because we were able to learn from the greats of the game...Bill Snyder, Bobby Stoops and others. As a head coach I have definitely taken Coach Snyder's blueprint into making a successful program and molded it to fit my personality. He has definitely helped show me how to run a program the right way and I am eternally grateful for that."
After a two-year run under .500 (8-9), Coach Curtis Horton has dubbed Fort Scott as Fort Tough. "It is never easy for a team to rebuild but it is harder when a team is rebuilding from a below par season (4-5 in 2012)." The Greyhounds are in the final year of a three-year NJCAA-mandated scholarship reduction, losing 17 free rides, after a national letter-of-intent violation. They are now, however, eligible for post-season play.
Highland may not be a winner on the field (2-7 last season, 10-53 since 2006) but the culture is slowly but surely changing in northeastern Kansas. Said second-year Coach Ryan Held: "I really don't care what the past has been. We will turn this thing around. We will work diligently to change the Highland brand into a place of destination for young men." Held has recruited players better, and he scored big by adding Marty Allen, the Scotties' former coach (1961-2005), and Bob Majeski, the head coach at Dodge City last season, to his coaching staff.
Coach Steve Carson of Independence won JCCC Coach of The Year honors in 2010, but over the past two seasons his teams have but four wins in 18 games. Said Carson of a 4-5 showing a year ago: "We were just inconsistent."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Andre Allen, Coffeyville, 5-7, 190, RB...Experienced, quick and shifty. Hard to stop.
Luke Barnes, Hutchinson, 6-2, 200, QB...Had 3,256 yards and 36 TDs as a freshman.
D'Vonta Derricott, Garden City, 6-2, 235, LB...Committed to Kansas St. He's that good.
Richard Dorvilus, Independence, 6-0, 215, LB...Plays inside/outside. Has multiple Dl offers.
Spencer Gatewood, Fort Scott, 6-4, 275, OL...Returning G will solidify the offensive line.
Demetrius Hill, Fort Scott, 6-2, 255, DE...Has had great effort. Big things expected of him.
Tyreek Hill, Garden City, 5-9, 192, RB-WR-QB-RET... 'Bama, Nebraska, OSU, USC on him.
Brock Long, Hutchinson, 5-11, 218, LB...Kansan is tough, physical with leadership skills.
Sean McKissack, Independence, 6-3, 255, TE...Second team all-conference as a freshman.
Robert Rawlings, Butler, 5-10, 184, K...Last year: 6-of-9 goals and 81-of-83 extra points.
Marcus Smith, Highland, 6-3, 310, DL...Expected to be a force in whatever comes his way.
Jeff Travillion, Highland, 6-3, 300, OL...The left tackle has athleticism with very good range.
Junior Williams, Coffeyville, 5-10, 190, DB...Good attitude, work ethic.¬ Been physical.
Owen Williams, Butler, 6-2, 283, DL...Returning starter valuable and will be a leader.
Freshmen or Newcomers/Transfers
Chris Carson, Butler, 6-2, 215, RB...Good size/speed, allowed him to make a lot of plays.
Rashard Dillard, Coffeyville, 6-2, 255, DL...Unbelievable motor, good attitude, competitive.
Darvell Harris, Dodge City, 6-2, 185, CB...He is half of one of the better CB duos in USA.
Tim Hill, Garden City, 6-0, 190, CB...Great knack for football with excellent coverage skills.
Marrion Holmes, Fort Scott, 6-0, 290, DL...Garden City JC transfer will be a major plus.
Derek Keaton, Coffeyville, 5-11, 170, WR...Small receiver, but he gets the job done.
Adrian Keeley, Independence, 6-3, 300, OG...Can get to the second¬ level on his blocks.
Joe Keels, Highland, 6-4, 280, DE...Very strong and runs very well. He is hard to beat.
Marquavius Lewis, Hutchinson, 6-3, 263, DL...RS last season, performs at a high level.
Patrick Martin, Highland, 6-1, 200, FS...Old school Ronnie Lott-type player. Loves to hit.
Danzel McDaniel, Dodge City, 6-2, 205, CB...He is half of one of the better CB duos in USA.
Zach Newman, Independence, 6-1, 180, CB...Related to Terrance Newman/NFL-Cincinnati.
DeVonte Robinson, Dodge City, 6-2, 185, WR....He's a player who will be heard from.
Jovonte Siglar, Hutchinson, 6-1, 179 WR...His Dad is an ex-Kansas City Chief.
Brandon Snell, Garden City, 6-0, 190, WR...Could bet he is best WR in the country.
Jason Stewart, Fort Scott, 6-3, 210, QB...Dodge City JC transfer has great arm. A leader.
Tyreis Thomas, Dodge City, 6-0, 205, RB...Offensive MVP at DuPage, Ill. last year is super.
Shedrick Williams, Butler, 6-0, 180, CB...Very good cover guy. Physical with great ball skills.