Hutch, Butler set up for heavyweight fight for conference crown




Special to The Telegram

Notes & quotes from last Saturday's Jayhawk Community College Conference games...When the 2013 schedule was released in late summer, no doubt a lot of Butler followers mentally circled Oct. 26.

That was the day that bitter rival Hutchinson was to visit Butler in El Dorado in a game that was sure to figure big in the regular season conference championship. Sure enough, with that day here, Butler and Hutchinson are tied for first place (5-1). Dodge City could have gotten a piece of the title with the winner of that game had it won last weekend, but the Conquistadors were upended by western Kansas rival Garden City (41-22). In other games, Butler won at Coffeyville (53-6) and Hutchinson defeated Fort Scott (63-39). Highland and Independence did not play.

Hutchinson had a season-high 30 first downs and totaled 481 yards (279 passing and 202 rushing) while staging one of the biggest comebacks in KJCCC history. After trailing by 22 points (36-14) just opening the second half, the Blue Dragons outscored Fort Scott the rest of the game, 49-3, to score the stunning win.

Running back JoNathan Alford of Fort Scott had a sensational game, carrying 29 times for 227 yards and scoring TDs on runs of 1, 64 and 63 yards. That last TD gave his team that 22-point cushion. Fort Scott seemed to be on the brink of a major upset, but Hutchinson turned the tables as backup QB Frank Seurer - he replaced star sophomore starter Luke Barnes, who was hurt in the first quarter - went to work, finishing with 14-of-25 passes for 234 yards.

Coach Rion Rhoades, who got his 50th win at Hutchinson in a most memorable way, said: "Coach (Curtis) Horton and his staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping their team motivated and playing hard despite having a tough year record-wise. Fort Scott played very well. But I have never been more proud of a team, not because of how they executed, but because of the heart they played with. They fought through a great deal of adversity to win."

Said Fort Scott assistant coach Kory Vaught, whose team is in the conference cellar (1-6/1-7): "The final result was awful. We let it slip through our fingers. It sums up our season and how it has gone for us. We will tell the kids that we need to finish the year strong to build for next year."

If you go by past scores, the Butler-Hutchinson game at El Dorado leans Butler's way big time. The Grizzlies have won 21 games in a row, beginning in 1998. Coach Rion Rhoades, who is 0-10 against Butler, says: "There is no doubt Butler has had our number, but the past is the past. It has no bearing on this game."

Said Butler Coach Troy Morrell after the Coffeyville win: "This team can be as good as they want to be, There is a lot of talent there, it's just a matter of putting it together every play, every game. We played better as a team. We were more consistent. I feel like we are moving in the right direction, improving on offense and defense."

The Grizzlies amassed 540 yards offensively, their second-best effort of the campaign in yards and points...QB Hunter Vaughn completed at least one pass to 13 different receivers, finishing with 297 yards on 22-of-34 passes. Defensively, back John Knight had five solo tackles and two assists.

Garden City traveled a bit to the east to play at Dodge City and came away with a big win over the then No. 11 NJCAA ranked Conquistadors. Said Garden City Coach Matt Miller: "It was finally a game where all the great individual parts of the talented and well-coached Garden City team came together and showed why many still believe it is the best team in the Jayhawk Conference."

The Broncbusters' defense was very effective, forcing five turnovers. The ringleader - again - was linebacker D'vonta Derricott. He had a pass interception that left his team on the Dodge City 1-yard line and Garden City later scored, and he also stripped RB Tyreis Thomas of the football and scored a TD off that play.

For his part, first-year Dodge City Coach Gary Thomas was candid. "Garden City played well, and put their guys in good situations most of the night.¬ We had a few injuries that didn't help much. We are focusing on relaxing, getting healthy and trying to extend our season as long as we can."¬  ¬ ¬ 

In Tuesday's NJCAA poll, Butler has climbed to the No. 8 spot, Hutchinson is No. 18 and Dodge City No. 19.

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