It’s been a strange season in Coffeyville. Just ask its interim head coach Jeff Leiker.
Leiker — Coffeyville’s athletic director and the former Garden City Community College head coach — has been at the helm of the Red Ravens for their last three games, when head coach Aaron Flores took a leave of absence due to illness. Flores is battling a lung disease that requires a double lung replacement.
While Flores is waiting for that surgery, Leiker has stepped in.
“It’s not a normal season, that’s for sure,” Leiker said. “It’s a strange season, and the players feel it, because it’s not a natural start-to-finish type of year.”
The Red Ravens (1-4, 1-2) continue their unorthodox season at 7 p.m. Saturday, when they visit the Busters (3-2, 2-2) at Broncbuster Stadium. Ignore their record, GCCC head coach Jeff Sims said of Coffeyville.
“Coffeyville’s as good as any team in the league,” Sims said. “They probably could have competed for a conference championship if they hadn’t had injuries at quarterback. Their defense is good enough. Their offense is good enough, but unfortunately, they’ve had injuries.”
The Red Ravens began the year with Mo Hasan at quarterback, then Jack Diamond, but both of those QBs got hurt, and then Delan Baines played in a game and missed last week due to a funeral. That left Coffeyville with starting a wildcat-type quarterback in Aloyous Jackson last week in a loss to previously winless Fort Scott. They also used defensive lineman Aaron Ortiz at QB in the game.
“The last three weeks have been a little bit of trial and error,” Leiker said. “Walking into it and not fully understanding the kids, and the system and all that.”
That system has even had to change, from Coffeyville’s usual spread run-and-gun, to a more condensed run-first offensive attack, due to the injuries at quarterback.
This week, Jackson is set to be the starter, after he went 9-for-17 passing for 82 yards against Fort Scott.
That gives the Busters an advantage, entering a three-game homestand and coming off their best performance of the season in a 36-30 upset win at Butler.
“I think every game the rest of the season is very important to us, but obviously a three-game stretch at home is important,” Sims said. “We still have aspirations at a bowl game, and maybe a shot at a conference title, if things fall your way.”
The Buster defense picked off five passes against Butler, after having just two the previous four games. They also finished all three drives when they got inside the Butler red zone for touchdowns, something they had struggled with in previous games.
“I don’t know if it’s directly related with the win we had last week, but once we entered the bye week (the week before Butler), we’ve had some really good practices,” Sims said, “and I think the win just keeps the momentum going and shows them that it does pay off.”
The Busters are tied for third in the conference with Butler, behind co-leaders Hutchinson and Independence, which are both 3-0 in the KJCCC.
Notes: Leiker coached at GCCC from 1992 to 1995, compiling a 33-11 record, going to three bowl games and winning two of them.