BURNFIN: New KJCCC FB schedule presents big challenges

4/18/2014

The Broncbusters will have plenty of challenges in the 2014 season — and not just from conference schools.

The Broncbusters will have plenty of challenges in the 2014 season — and not just from conference schools.

The 2014 Garden City Community College football team's schedule was released a couple of weeks ago, with the move to a new partnership between the KJCCC and the Midwest Football Conference (MFC) for non-conference games included.

Previously, many Jayhawk schools played Air Force Prep once a year and then played one game against the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, which is comprised of six Texas schools and Northeast Oklahoma A&M. The other seven games of the nine-game schedule were against KJCCC opponents.

The Busters still have those big tests in front of them, beginning immediately on Aug. 30 with a home game against the Highland Scotties, who beat the Busters in a bitter battle, 20-17, last season.

Then, rival Dodge City on the road is up next for the Busters on Sept. 6. A week later, the non-conference schedule begins against the MFC.

The MFC is a five-team conference with four Iowa colleges — Iowa Western, DuPage, Iowa Central and Ellsworth — and North Dakota State College of Science.

The MFC has become somewhat of a national power in recent years as Iowa Western, in 2012 — when NJCAA All-American Jake Waters, now at Kansas State, was the quarterback destroying passing records — won the National Championship by defeating Butler, 27-7, then again beat Butler in the Graphic Edge Bowl in 2013 — a 6-0 defensive struggle — and have finished in the top 11 nationaly every season after their inaugural in 2009, when they finished 5-4.

The Iowa Western Reivers bring what is promised to be another national contender to the new Multi-sport Facility in Garden City to take on the Busters on Oct. 4.

That will be second-year head coach Matt Miller's squad's fifth game of the season, sandwiched in between a pair of pivotal Jayhawk games vs. Independence on Sept. 27, and at Hutchinson on Oct. 11.

The powerhourse Reivers will not be the first non-conference opponent for the Busters, though.

The Ellsworth Panthers, who struggled to a 2-8 record in 2013, will host the Busters on Sept. 13, GCCC's third contest.

And the non-conference schedule is completed with a trip to Iowa Central on Nov. 1. The Tritons defeated at-the-time No. 7 ranked Rochester, 23-20 in overtime, in the Graphic Edge Bowl's opening game in 2013.

The Tritons finished the season 6-5 and third in their conference. Ellsworth was last, and both teams lost twice to Iowa Western due to the double round robin conference schedule format.

The three non-conference games boost the Busters' regular season schedule from nine games to 10, with the seven conference games still remaining.

The Busters host Fort Scott and Butler on back-to-back weeks on Oct. 18 and 25, and then travel to Coffeyville to finish the season on Nov. 8, a week after traveling to Iowa Central.

To account for the extra game, the Jayhawk will no longer hold a four-team playoff at the end of the regular season to determine a conference champion.

There's a lot that goes into why Iowa Western has been able to start a national power program so quickly, as opposed to Butler, who has built the program over decades.

First, the Iowa schools all have well over 100 kids on the roster, and play a reserve schedule for the redshirt and back-up players.

The 2013 Iowa Central roster included 153 athletes, including 23 designated redshirt players. And there were 42 out-of-state players, as well.

Iowa Western has a similar roster construction, helping the Reivers defeat KJCCC power Butler in back-to-back postseason games — the national championship in 2012, and the Graphic Edge Bowl in 2013.

Many times, players in their sophomore season at Iowa Western are finishing out their third season at the JUCO level, a rare occurence at KJCCC schools.

In the last three seasons, the MFC is 7-2 in bowl games, and 9-4 since 2010, including four wins and only one loss to Jayhawk schools.

It will be a tall task for any of the Jayhawk teams to transpire through the non-conference schedule unscathed, but especially difficult for the Busters in two long road trips, with the only home game against the Goliaths of Iowa Western.

Sports Reporter Levi Burnfin can be reached by email at lburnfin@gctelegram.com

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