|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
JCFootball.com / JC Grid-Wire PLUS Predictions
2002 Jayhawk Conference Predictions
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