Originally from Pittsburg, Kan., just about 30 miles south of Fort
Scott, Verdugo, who last year was the quarterbacks coach at Southern
Illinois University, was hired by FSCC athletics director Kevin Gundy
when Gundy decided to leave the sidelines after five seasons as
In comes Verdugo, with plenty of high expectations after last
season's 5-5 record and third-place finish in the Jayhawk Conference.
"We feel very good about the way the program's coming
together," Verdugo said. "We feel the kids have done a great job
rallying around what we expect them to do. We didn't go in and turn
the program upside down at Fort Scott, but we did change some things."
With a new coaching staff, it may be a blessing in disguise that the
Greyhounds return just two starters on offense and two more on defense.
At quarterback, Verdugo is counting on 6-2, 200-pound sophomore Bill
Whittemore, a transfer from Tennessee-Martin, to lead the Greyhound
attack. Whittemore was 19 for 51 passing for 282 yards with a touchdown
and four interceptions for UT-Martin as a redshirt freshman.
"They changed their system there, went to a triple option,"
Verdugo said. "That's not what he does real well, so he was looking
to find a home and we were glad to accommodate him."
One of Whittemore's receivers is 6-2, 200-pound sophomore James
Taylor, the Jayhawk Conference's third-leading receiver a year ago,
with 35 catches for 530 yards and two touchdowns.
"He has very good athletic ability, great hands and is very
intelligent," Verdugo said. Taylor was a top prospect coming out of
high school in Ohio and committed to Michigan. He's still committed to
play for the Wolverines upon earning his degree.
The Greyhound coaching staff is very excited about landing WR Jamaar
Farbes out of Denver.
"Jamaar's a great athlete," Verdugo said. "He's a kid that
does a lot of things I haven't seen on the football field in quite
Two out-of-state signees, Ryan Drinkwater (5-10, 215) from Atlanta
and Marquan Sample (5-11, 215) from Toledo, Ohio, will compete for the
starting tailback position.
One question mark is the hogs up front. The Greyhounds will have five
new starters from a year ago.
"We're going to be very young there," Verdugo said.
"They've all got great size, but not many of them have played
college football before, so it will be exciting to see how they react,
how they come along."
The biggest of the linemen is 6-7, 370-pound freshman Brandon Hurd
from Fort Worth, Texas.
"He wears size 20 shoes and size 52 game pants," Verdugo said.
"He's a big child. He doesn't know what he can do with his body
yet. He's got great athletic ability, and that's without really ever
The two returners on defense are impact players, linebacker Dru
Bowman and defensive back Clark McCracken. Every one else is untested.
"Defensively, we're going to be young. There's no hiding that
fact," Verdugo said. "We don't have a lot of redshirts coming back
from last year's team. A lot of them are going to be freshmen, so
they're going to have to grow up quickly. Fortunately, they are very,
very athletic, and hopefully that'll cover up some of their youth."
High school teammates Jacoby Antoine and Damian Batiste will line up
at defensive line and linebacker, respectively, while Verdugo feels he
has a keeper in linebacker Mitchell Hughes from Louisville, Ky.
An added weapon for the Greyhounds is sophomore placekicker Matt
London, who was 14 of 19 in field-goal attempts and 26 of 27 kicking
extra points as a freshman.
The Greyhounds were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches
poll, but Verdugo is shooting for a loftier finish.
"Fort Scott was doing things pretty good before I got there,"
Verdugo said. "The one thing I said when I first got hired is it's
not like I'm having to come in and totally rebuild a house that's
been burned down. This house is about three-fourth's of the way
finished. It's just my job to add some bricks and try to get it over
(home games bold, all caps)
SEPT. 1: HIGHLAND
Sept. 8: At Hutchinson
SEPT. 15: N.E.O.
SEPT. 22: INDEPENDENCE
Sept. 29: At Dodge City
OCT. 6: GARDEN CITY
Oct. 13: At Coffeyville
Oct. 20: At Butler County
Oct. 28: First Round, Kansas Jayhawk Conference Playoffs.
Nov. 4: Second Round, Kansas Jayhawk Conference Playoffs.
Nov. 11: Kansas Jayhawk Conference Championship.
Scott Football Website