2002 Jayhawk Conference Predictions

Previously we made our fearless prediction on the future outcome for northern California, naming CCSF to win out and play for a state title. Four-peat national champs? Now we venture into the heartland and see what the Kansas Jayhawk Conference will look like. Keep in mind that we're still a couple of weeks away from the first game and rosters are still in flux.

Last year Butler County went 10-2, winning the Kansas title in a 15-14 squeeker over Garden City.  The Grizzlies went on to drop a 31-19 decision to Georgia Military in the Sea Island Bowl and settled for 14th place in the final J.C. Grid-Wire national rankings.

Earlier in the year Garden had downed BC 14-7.

This year Hank Ives and Jayhawk Conference guru, Gary Cheatham, look for the GCCC Broncbusters to win the Jayhawk Conference. Here's why.  Two excellent running backs in Kay Jay Harris and  Tyson Thompson.  Both big, rangy and fast with D1 opportunities ahead of them. Add perhaps the best secondary in JC football, some big-time bouncebacks for the defensive line, and QB John Little, 6-1, 205, who transferred from Georgia Military. He led GMC to the NJCAA title last year. Bob Larson, whose teams have gone 30-5 in the last three years, will have to fortify a young OL, but has a couple of out-of-staters to fill that bill.

As usual Butler County and Coffeyville will be right there in the mix.  We have a hunch that Coffeyville will nudge BC for second place, but would bet the farm that all three of these teams will end up in someone's bowl game in December.  Jeff Leiker's Coffeyville Red Ravens have a dominant pair of running backs in Brandon Jacobs and Missouri-placed Damien Nash. The latter will end up playing a number of positions this year. Defensive tackle Darrell Shopshire, 6-4, 280, has already committed to the University of South Carolina.  Question mark might be at QB and overall inexperience. Kevin predicts Coffeyville to win the conference title in 2002.

Butler County has an excellent group of linebackers, headed by Marcus Lawrence, 6-3, 240, and Mississippi State transfer, J.J. Grant, 6-4, 250 at DE, to propel the defense.  However, we are not hearing much on the offensive side, especially at QB (perhaps 6-3, 220 transfer Anthony Johnson). Running back is also a question mark with the graduation of Ronald McClendon (Ole Miss) and Jermaine Green (Wash. State). All can change, of course, when they sort out their 12 out-of-staters and transfers. We heard recently that some of their top transfers and signees either didn't arrive or may not play as planned. Troy Morrell's lads are always tough and in the hunt and this year doesn't look any different.

Kevin Verdugo at Fort Scott did a lot with very little last year and managed to come up with a 5-4 mark. That might have been even better had WR James Taylor (Louisville) not broken his leg late in the season. This year's standouts include Damien Batiste, 6-1, 225, who is a nice looking inside 'backer and CB Melvin Vance, 6-0, 220. Meanwhile, James Forbes looks like another in a long line of fine wide-receivers at 6-0, 175. Looking at the overall picture, though, the numbers just aren't there for a top-3 finish. They recently learned, too, that their top quarterback prospect will be playing hoops for Washburn University in the fall. A good coaching staff, some nice in-state recruits, and a few key standouts will keep the Greyhounds in the hunt.

Dodge City must learn some winning ways and might do so with some excellent out-of state lads and bouncebacks.  Tailback Gerard Jackson, 5-9, 235, led the conference in rushing as a freshman and corner Renaldo Hill, 6-1, 175, would play for anyone. The Conqs have a great staff and many feel that they are on the verge of turning the corner. The difference maker could be RS-Freshman quarterback Walter Washington, 6-2, 245, who could be as good as advertised.

Our man Gary Cheatham says watch out for the Independence Pirates to move up a few notches after years in the cellar. Watch out for CB Eric Fuller and FS LeUndo Adams, who are All-American types receiving lots of D1 attention. The Pirates also return QB Forrest Mazey, who had a nice season in '01. Kevin has a feeling that Independence is still a year away from really being competitive but that four or five wins might be possible.

Highland's Marty Allen is a top coach, but has problems luring talent. It doesn't help the Scotties any that their go-to receiver, Henry Powell, 6-1, 215, will not be playing. Their top recruit might be DL David Sharp, who is a force at 6-3, 290.

Hutchinson's tailback, Antwaun Guidry, 6-1, 195, will be fun to watch after being placed by Nebraska, but the Hutchinson Blue Dragons don't have a lot going for them. Look for freshmen to play key roles.

As usual the Jayhawk Conference will supply a ton of talent to the four-year folks six months from now and plenty of entertainment in the meantime.

JCFootball.com / JC Grid-Wire PLUS Predictions

Garden City, Coffeyville, Butler County, Dodge City
Coffeyville, Garden City, Butler County, Dodge City
Gary Cheatham:
Garden City, Coffeyville, Butler County, Fort Scott

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