1) Butler, 2) Coffeyville, 3) Garden City, 4) Hutchinson, tie-5) Dodge City and Fort Scott, 7) Independence, and 8) Highland. It became increasingly apparent throughout the media day that the conference is very balanced from top to bottom. “It’s very competitive, I think most teams have a chance to win every week,” said Garden City Head Coach Lucas Aslin. “The gap is closing between the best teams and the teams that are struggling,” added Hutchinson Head Coach Rion Rhoades.
There will be a few new faces around the league this year with Jeff Sims, Fort Scott; Rion Rhodes, Hutchinson; Mike Beagle, Highland; and Lucas Aslin, Garden City.
8) Highland - The Scotties are led by first year coach Mike Beagle. He comes to Highland from North Dakota College of Science. The Scotties are led on the defensive side of the ball by returning All-American FS Marcus VanBuren(6-2, 185, West Monroe, LA), DB Yves Laneau (6-1, 175, Lauderdale, FL), and DL Domenique Butler (6-1, 285, Gadsden, AL). They will need to provide leadership to a young defense. On offense, Highland will be led by RB Terence Hall(5-8, 175). A transfer from Florida Atlantic, Hall is a multi-talented player who could be used in various spots on the field. Highland has a tough road to start the season as they host #5 Georgia Military and then face #8 Coffeyville.
7) Independence - David Ward begins his fourth season at the helm of the Pirates. Independence returns six starters on offense, four of which are offensive linemen. They also return three starters on defense. Offensively, the Pirates are led by Pre-Season All-American WR Adrian Holiday (6-0, 185, West Helena, AR). RB Earl Richardson (6-1, 210, Camden, SC) adds experience in the backfield. The QB competition will be between two freshman with the likely starter being Samual Lamur (6-4, 215, Palm Beach, FL). Defensively, the Pirates feel very strongly about DE David Bedford (6-5, 241, West Palm, FL), who was red-shirted last season. Coach Ward believes that Bedford can give the Pirates the pass rush that they have lacked in the past. Bedford along with DL Frank Grimes (6-1, 298, Tallahassee, FL) will be solid upfront.
Tie-5) Fort Scott - The Greyhounds begin a second straight season with a new head coach. Jeff Sims takes over the team from Rion Rhoades who is now at Hutchinson and he is happy to be here. “I’ve been wanting to be a head football coach in the Jayhawk Conference since I went to Baker University,” said Greyhound head coach Sims. Fort Scott returns 20 players from last year’s team that finished runner-up to Butler for the Region VI championship. On offense, they are led by QB Gregory Cross (6-2, 204, Brunswick, GA). As a freshman, Cross started every game for the Greyhounds, leading them to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the Heart of Texas Bowl. WR Anthony Riley (5-9, 165, St. Louis, MO) gives Cross a consistent target on the field. Defensively, the Greyhounds are led by FS Todd Adkins (6-0, 190, Kansas City, KS) and FS Lucien Antoine (6-2, 210, Coral Springs, FL) as well as LB Matt Glades (6-3, 225, Galena, KS).
Tie-5) Dodge City - Marcus Garstecki returns for his third season as head coach of the Conquistadors. Dodge has a total of 11 starters coming back (6-offense; 5-defense). The offensive line will be anchored by Kyle Bright (5-11, 250, Macksville, KS). Kyle was an all-conference honorable mention performer last season. He will be joined by Kyle Burkhart (6-6, 280, Kinsley, KS), who was an all-conference performer at defensive end last season, but will make the switch to offensive tackle this season. The big question mark heading into this season is at the quarterback position. The battle for the starting nod should come down between Sed Bryant (6-2, 220, Miami, FL) and Sam Their (6-3, 215, Great Bend, KS). At wide receiver, the Conqs return three players that all saw considerable playing time as freshman: Jeff Slater (6-2, 210, Lansing, KS), Tyler Kirby (6’3 190, Dodge City, KS), and Kyle Loomis (6-4, 200, Macksville, KS). They are led on defense by a linebacker unit that should be the strongest group on the team. Jason Thomas (6-1, 225, Oberlin, KS) and Ryan Robbins (6-4, 220, Lansing, KS) will be looked upon to lead the way. The Conqs’ schedule does them no favors as they face NEO, Butler, and Garden City in the first four weeks of the season.
4) Hutchinson - Rion Rhoades returns to his alma mater one year after taking Fort Scott to the Region VI championship game. He has a tough task ahead of him in trying to turn around a team that was 0-9 this past season. The Blue Dragons will be led on offense by Texas Tech transfer QB Chris Todd (6-2, 222, Elizabethtown, KY). He was ranked as one of the top 50 quarterbacks in the high school class of 2005. After red shirting in 2005, Todd played in five games for Texas Tech in 2006. Returning sophomores on offense also include WR Danny McEvoy (6-4, 190, Leavenworth, KS) and OL Caleb Otto (6-2, 300, Stafford, KS). On the defensive side of the ball, Hutch looks for DL Brandon Kush (6-4, 280, Louisburg, KS) and DL Tim Erwin (6-3, 230, Hoxie, KS) to lead the way this season. They will look to improve a defense which gave up 36 points per game last season and gave up 40 points or more on five occasions.
3) Garden City - Even though Garden City is led by a first year coach, Lucas Aslin, he is no stranger to Garden as he served as the defensive coordinator the past two seasons. The Busters return 4 starters on offense and 1 starter on defense. “We’re like everyone else in this conference, we’re going to be very young,” said Aslin. Returning starter Eldred King will be counted on to make big plays in the passing game at the wide receiver position. Returning starter Kelcey Wilson anchors a line which will include sophomores Byron Jones, Chris Barry, and Kyler Clawson. The lone returning starter on defense is linebacker and Pre-Season All-American J.R. Bryant, who was a 1st team all conference performer last season. Bryant will need to provide leadership to a young defense for the Busters to be successful. The biggest question for the Busters is at tailback. Maurice Greer, who played for Garden two years ago missed last season due to cancer, will be one that the Busters look upon to provide a punch in the running game. How effective he is depends on how healthy he stays during the season. Garden opens the season hosting Trinity Valley, Texas and then has a bye week before hosting Butler in week three.
2) Coffeyville - Jeff Leiker begins his seventh season as the head coach of the Red Ravens. In each of his previous six seasons, he has led Coffeyville to a bowl game appearance. They look to maintain that streak this season as they return 19 players from last year’s 7-4 team. Offensively, the Ravens are led by Pre-Season All-American RB Nate Guillory (5-10, 185, Houston, TX) who rushed for over 1,100 yards last season. Also returning is WR Blair Irvin (6-0, 180, Patterson, LA), he was moved to the secondary during the spring. On defense, the Ravens return two starters from last year’s squad. DT Troy Epps (6-1, 280, Union, SC) and S Melvin Williams (6’1 205, Lebannon, TN) will be looked upon to lead the defense this season. LB Garrick Maples (6-1, 215, Frontenac, KS) and DT Kuna Kola (6-0, 280, Pittsburg, KS) should step in to provide help on defense. The Ravens also return both their kicker and punter from last season. K Erik Hronek (6-0, 185, Olathe, KS) and K/P Lucas Ortiz (5-10, 210, Leavenworth, KS) will provide stability for the special teams in what will be a young team. Offensive line and quarterback will be the biggest question for the Ravens heading into this fall. The Ravens open their season traveling down to Brenham, Texas to take on the defending national champions and currently third ranked Blinn. They will meet Butler on October 6 for their annual shootout.
1) Butler - Troy Morrell begins his eighth season at the helm of the Grizzlies. Butler has won six consecutive conference championships and will be looking for number seven this season. To do this the Grizzlies will need to overcome their youth and inexperience. The only returning starter from last season is DB Maurice Gray (5-11, 180, Warner Robins, GA). On defense, the Grizzlies will have a big void to fill left by the graduation of LB Austin Panter, who was the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year. Defensive back JD Douglas (6-4, 195, Autagaville, AL) will help Gray in the defensive backfield after playing in a handful of games last season. Others that should contribute right away are DE Antonio Felder (6-3, 240, Warner Robins, GA), DL Tyler Jessen (6-2, 285, Wichita, KS), and DL Swanson Miller (6-4, 325, Achaula, FL). On offense, the Grizzlies are led by Pre-Season All-American RB Beau Johnson (5-11, 205, Lawrenceville, GA) who rushed for over 1100 yards as a freshman. At quarterback, Butler will need to replace Paul Eck who went 20-3 as a starter over the past two seasons. Red shirt freshman Press Taylor (6-0, 200, Norman, OK) looks to become the starting quarterback for the Grizzlies as he looks to fill Eck’s shoes. His last name may sound familiar to some as he is the younger brother of Zac Taylor, who was Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year at Nebraska before signing with Tampa Bay in the spring. OL Jarvis Doleman (6-2, 300, Lawrence, KS) and OL Ryan Dercher (6-7, 310, Leavenworth, KS) will help open holes for the running game while still protecting the quarterback. Butler will open their 2007 season at home against Kilgore, TX as they look to continue their winning ways.
Extra - The KJCCC has agreed to extend the deal with the Texas league for two more seasons after this year. They are also looking at moving the first weekend back a week to the Labor Day weekend. The Region VI championship game will again be played at Cessna Stadium in Wichita for a second year in a row.
Rule changes - We will be going back to the timing rules of 2005 after trying to speed up the game last year with a moving clock. KJCCC supervisor of officials Craig Hesler said that last year’s timing change resulted in a loss of 15 plays per team. The rules committee has also moved the kickoff line back to the 30 yard line just like in the NFL. The purpose is to allow for more returns and less touchbacks.
TALK ABOUT IT ON THE JAYHAWK MESSAGE BOARD
Saturday, August 25
Hutchinson at #25 Tyler College TX 7:00 PM
Independence at #12 Cisco Junior College TX - TBA
#8 Coffeyville at #3 Blinn College TX 3:00 PM
Dodge City at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 7:00 PM
Trinity Valley TX at #21 Garden City 7:00 PM
#17 Navarro College TX at Fort Scott 1:00 PM
Kilgore at #4 Butler 7:00 PM
#5 Georgia Military at Highland 1:00 PM
Saturday, September 1
Butler at Dodge City 7:00 PM
Fort Scott at Independence 7:00 PM
Coffeyville at Highland 1:00 PM
Hutchinson at Air Force Prep 3:00 PM CDT
Garden City Bye
Saturday, September 8
Butler at Garden City 7:00 PM
Fort Scott at Coffeyville 7:00 PM
Highland at Hutchinson 7:00 PM
Air Force Prep at Independence 7:00 PM
Dodge City Bye
Saturday, September 15
Garden City at Dodge City 7:00 PM
Independence at Butler 1:30 PM
Hutchinson at Coffeyville 7:00 PM
Highland at Air Force Prep 12:00 MT
Fort Scott Bye
Saturday, September 22
Dodge City at Fort Scott 1:00 PM
Garden City at Hutchinson 7:00 PM
Air Force Prep at Coffeyville 7:00 PM
Independence at Highland 1:00 PM
Saturday, September 29
Dodge City at Independence 7:00 PM
Highland at Garden City 7:00 PM
Fort Scott at Hutchinson 7:00 PM
Butler at Air Force Prep 1:00 PM MT
Saturday, October 6
Hutchinson at Dodge City 7:00 PM
Independence at Garden City 7:00 PM
Air Force Prep at Fort Scott 1:00 PM
Coffeyville at Butler 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 13
Dodge City at Highland 1:00 PM
Fort Scott at Butler 7:00 PM
Independence at Coffeyville 7:00 PM
Garden City at Air Force Prep 12:00 PM MT
Saturday, October 20
Air Force Prep at Dodge City 1:00 PM
Garden City at Coffeyville 7:00 PM
Highland at Fort Scott 1:00 PM
Butler at Hutchinson 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 27
Coffeyville at Dodge City 7:00 PM
Fort Scott at Garden City 7:00 PM
Highland at Butler 7:00 PM
Hutchinson at Independence 1:30 PM
Sunday, November 4
Semi-Finals of Region VI Playoffs 1:30 PM
Sunday, November 11
Region VI Championship 1:30 PM
at Wichita State University