No wonder Rossetti had little interest when he was first contacted about the
open Dodge City head coaching position.
"Being only 50 miles away, I guess I perceived Dodge City Community College
based on the way we beat them at Garden City," Rossetti said. "(DCCC
President) Richard Burke asked me to come on campus and take a look."
Rossetti liked enough of what he saw to replace Greg Cintilli, who resigned
after winning just seven games in five seasons.
Rossetti, who was the head coach at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College before his
stint at Garden City, takes over a Conq squad that went 2-7 a year ago and has
just six returning starters.
One of those returnees is QB Jake Blodgett, who started a handful of games a
year ago. The Topeka, Kan., native went 50 for 89 passing for 383 yards with two
touchdowns and five interceptions as a freshman.
"He's kind of a tough, hard-nosed kid," Rossetti said. "He's not going to come at you with great speed or arm strength, but has a lot of intangibles that you've got to like."
Blodgett will be pressed by out-of-state QB's Tabares Baker, Bruce Petty
and Tavares Taylor.
Two offensive linemen, tackle Joey Lippo and center Derek Olson, are back, as
is starting tight end Russ Owens, who Rossetti considers one of the top tight
end prospects in the nation.
Who will be the feature back is still up in the air. Candidates include
redshirt Terrence ‘Black' Anderson, Gerard Jackson, a transfer from Central
Florida, Jeff Womack, Allen Edwards, David Nieto and Dusty Osner.
Levi Pledger is the only returning letter winner at wide receiver, so there
are a lot of question marks at that position.
Defensively, the Conqs return just two starters, tackle Bernard Godfrey and
safety Joe Simon.
They do have two Division I transfers along the defensive line, John Duggan
(6-6, 275) from Purdue and Marquis Johnson (6-4, 285) from Miami. Defensive end
Darnell Jordan (6-4, 250) draws high praise from the Conqs' coaching staff.
Another defensive line candidate is Antonio Searcy (6-4, 285) from Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., the nephew of Baltimore Ravens' offensive tackle Leon
Miami native Leon Cesar (6-1, 225) leads the list of candidates at
linebacker, while corners Donald Defrond (6-1, 180) from Ft. Lauderdale and Tim
Jackson (5-10, 190) from Tampa, Fla., lead a speedy, but inexperienced group in
"We'll stay pretty similar to what we did at Garden City, have a lot of
the same philosophies," Rossetti said, "but I'm sure we'll do some
things a little bit different also."
The Conqs, picked sixth in the preseason Jayhawk Conference coaches poll,
will find out just how far Rossetti and his coaching staff have brought the
team. Dodge City opens up the season Sept. 1 at home against the Broncbusters.
"Somebody made the comment, ‘Maybe you can sneak up on Garden City.' I
said, ‘I don't think so. Those kids are going to be out gunning for
me,'" Rossetti said. "I didn't leave Garden City for awhile, so I'd
see those kids around town, and trust me, we're not going to sneak up on
But while leaving one of the most successful junior college programs to move
to a program working its way up may be career suicide for some, Rossetti is
confident the Conqs will make a move up the Jayhawk Conference standings.
"The reason I went to Dodge City is there is a great foundation there," Rossetti said. "The potential is definitely there. It's going to be a matter of changing some attitudes, it's going to take great work ethic and great recruiting, but the foundation is there."
TEAM PREVIEW: Dodge City CC
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