WICHITA – Coming off the best season in program history in 2014, the Hutchinson Community College football team was picked to win the 2015 Jayhawk Conference championship on Friday.
Announced at the league’s annual Football Media Day at Newman University in Wichita, the Jayhawk Coaches’ Preseason Poll had the Blue Dragons on top. Hutchinson hasn’t been the preseason conference football favorite since 1996, the year after the program last captured a conference crown. HCC hasn’t repeated as league champions since winning three in a row from 1948-50.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it didn’t feel good to be picked No. 1,” said HCC head coach Rion Rhoades, who enters his ninth season with the Blue Dragons, making him the longest-tenured current head coach in the Jayhawk Conference. “That’s human nature. You appreciate that people can see you are doing well.
“But I am also a realist enough that (the preseason ranking) doesn’t do a thing to help us win football games. It puts a big bulls-eye on you. I hope everybody (associated with the Blue Dragon program) takes some pride in it, but 2015 is new and Fort Scott is our first conference game and they aren’t going to care where we are picked in the preseason poll.”
Hutchinson returns eight starters and 24 lettermen from a team went 11-1, won the program’s first conference championship since 1995 – its first outright title since 1969 – and finished fourth in the final NJCAA preseason poll in 2014. Winners of a sixth-straight Salt City Bowl, the Blue Dragons were one game away from playing for a national title last season. The only loss was on the road to eventual national runner-up Iowa Western.
There will be some huge holes to fill in 2015. The Blue Dragons will have to replace four All-Americans, including first-team running back Alvin Kamara, the 2014 Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year and defensive end Marquavius Lewis, the Jayhawk’s 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American. Defensive end Jeremiah Ledbetter and linebacker Claude George – both were second-team All-Americans – along with Kamara and Ledbetter, all reside with Southeastern Conference teams in the upcoming season.
“Those defensive ends were very special guys,” Rhoades said, referring to Lewis and Ledbetter. “The versatility of size, speed and power was incredible. It was remarkable to have two of them in one year. “Alvin made a lot of great plays last year, but I think we will have some good running backs. Those D-ends are really going to be hard to replace.”
The Blue Dragons will return starting quarterback Kylen Binn, who threw for 1,501 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Highly recruited Tate Leavitt will anchor an offensive line with seven total lettermen returning from last year’s team that was the third-best scoring offensive in team history. Receiver DeQuan Bowman and offensive lineman Adrian Flagg are the other returning offensive starters.
Defensively, end A.J. Banks and tackle Greg Webb are back. Linebacker Kyle Wilson and safety Jerrod Sanders are the only returning starters on the second and third levels of the defense.
After Hutchinson, Coffeyville was picked second in the preseason poll. The Red Ravens were a resurgent 9-3 last season and were less than 2 minutes from becoming 2014 Jayhawk Conference champions had it not been for two super-human runs by Hutch’s Kamara in the Dragons’ stunning 42-35 comeback victory last season at Coffeyville.
With new head coach Tim Schaffner running the team, perennial league power Butler was picked third, followed by Dodge City in fourth. Garden City and Highland tied for fifth, Fort Scott was seventh and Independence was eighth in the preseason poll.
Hutchinson’s first practice will be August 6. The Blue Dragons’ first game will be on Thursday, Aug. 27 against the Sterling JV at 7 p.m. at Gowans Stadium.
Hutchinson will have six home games this season. Butler comes to Gowans Stadium on Sept. 12. Dodge City is in Hutchinson on Sept. 26, Coffeyville on Oct. 3, Iowa Western on Oct. 24 and Ellsworth on Oct. 31.
(HCC Sports Information)
2015 Jayhawk Conference Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll
4. Dodge City
5T. Garden City
7. Fort Scott
The Hutchinson Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams had solid seasons in competition, but were extraordinary in the classroom in the 2014-15 season.
The Blue Dragon men’s and women’s teams were both named the NJCAA Track and Field Coaches Association’s 2015 Academic Teams of the Year, the group announced this week.
The Hutchinson women’s team posted an aggregate 3.831 team grade-point average. The HCC women’s team amassed a 3.702 GPA. The NJCAA Track and Field Coaches Association takes the Top 10 GPA’s from each team for the spring semester to compute Team GPA for this award.
Five Blue Dragon women’s athletes had 4.0 GPAs. There were 34 4.0 GPAs in the nation this past season. HCC women’s athletes to achieve 4.0 GPA were Ashley Claxton (Derby, KS; Sophomore); Kaley Dick (Buhler, KS, Freshman); Angela Lingg (Wichita, KS, Freshman); Angelica Soria (Topeka, KS, Freshman) and Holly Wright (Wellington, KS, Freshman).
There were 12 4.0 GPA’s among the men’s individual GPAs and three were Blue Dragon athletes – Jack Adkins (Buhler, KS, Freshman); Steve Wiebe (Buhler, KS, Sophomore) and Matt Willis (Newton, KS, Freshman).
(HCC Sports Information)
NJCAA TRACK AND FIELD COACHES ASSOCIATION ACADEMIC HONORS
1. Hutchinson CC 3.831
2. Cloud County CC 3.784
3. Highland CC 3.741
4. New Mexico JC 3.577
5. Butler CC 3.575
6. Iowa Western CC 3.537
7. South Plains College 3.513
8. Cuyahoga CC 3.275
9. Vincennes University 3.203
Women’s Individual (HCC athletes only)
Ashley Claxton (Derby, KS; Sophomore) 4.00
Kaley Dick (Buhler, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Angela Lingg (Wichita, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Angelica Soria (Topeka, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Holly Wright (Wellington; KS, Freshman) 4.00
Hannah Eilert (Beloit, KS; Freshman) 3.81
Alexandra VanSickle (Winfield; KS, Sophomore) 3.79
Carlie Phillips (Chapman, KS; Freshman) 3.75
Breah Waldron (Derby, KS; Sophomore) 3.64
Karis Parker (Wichita, KS; Freshman) 3.39
1. Hutchinson CC 3.702
2. Iowa Western CC 3.633
3. Butler CC 3.459
4. Vincennes University 3.407
5. Essex County College 3.379
6. Cloud County CC 3.369
7. Highland CC 3.300
8. South Plains College 3.179
9. Western Texas College 2.848
Men’s Individual (HCC athletes only)
Jack Adkins (Buhler, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Steven Wiebe (Buhler, KS; Sophomore) 4.00
Matt Willis (Newton, KS; Freshman) 4.00
Stein Desir (Royal Palm Beach, FL; Freshman) 3.83
Brent Patton (Wamego, KS; Sophomore) 3.83
Weston Riner (Pratt, KS; Sophomore) 3.77
Joseph Daniel Peters (Cheney, KS; Freshman) 3.67
Mark Davis (Haysville, KS; Sophomore) 3.60
Edgar Gutierrez (Hutchinson, KS; Sophomore) 3.54
Manny Hernandez (Las Vegas, NV; Freshman) 3.54
Hutchinson Community College announced on Wednesday that Josh Gooch will become the college’s fifth Director of Athletics.
Gooch will succeed Randy Stange, who has served as athletic director since 1997. Stange accepted a position with the Springfield (MO) Public Schools.
Gooch has a long history with Blue Dragon athletics and the Jayhawk Conference. He served as the Blue Dragon football team’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011 and again in 2013. Gooch has also been part of successful football programs in the conference at Coffeyville and Fort Scott.
In his one year away from Hutchinson in 2012, Gooch was the head football coach at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. After his return in 2013, Gooch left athletes for a season to work as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Actavis Pharmaceuticals.
“Josh comes to Hutch with outstanding credentials, ability and background to lead the Blue Dragon Athletic Department,” HCC president Dr. Carter File said.
Gooch was at Assistant to the Athletic Director at Fort Hays State for three years.
“Josh brings a solid background of experience and knowledge to the position with the added benefit of being familiar with Hutch, the athletic department, NJCAA rules and regulations and the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference,” Dr. File said.
Gooch is a native of Wellington, Kan. He was a standout football player and wrestler at Wellington High School. He played linebacker at Coffeyville Community College and then at Fort Hays State University. Gooch was also a two-time wrestling All-American at Fort Hays State, placing seventh in 1995 and third in 1996 at the NCAA Division II wrestling championships.
Gooch has a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in sports administration from Fort Hays State
Gooch is married to the former Kandy Ubben of Phillipsburg, Kan. The couple has two children, Aubrey (A.J., 7) and Avery (4).
(HCC Sports Information)
HISTORY OF BLUE DRAGON ATHLETIC DIRECTORS
Charles Sesher – 1930-1966
Sam Butterfield – 1966-1985
Jack Morris – 1985-1997
Randy Stange – 1997-2015
Josh Gooch – 2015-
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COBLE FINISHES AS NJCAA GOLF ALL-AMERICAN; DRAGONS GET TOP 10 FINISH
HCC’s VADEN 6TH AFTER DAY 1 OF NJCAA DECATHLON AT GOWANS STADIUM
BLUE DRAGON GOLFERS REMAIN EIGHTH HEADING INTO FINAL DAY OF NATIONALS
KALANI PURCELL NAMED NJCAA FIRST-TEAM WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ALL-AMERICAN
AHMED NAMED NJCAA DIVISION I ALL-AMERICA HONORABLE MENTION
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BLUE DRAGONS GO AFTER 1ST CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1-2 BATTLE VS. CHIPOLA SATURDAY
HCC WOMEN GRIND OUT NJCAA SEMIFINAL VICTORY OVER WALTERS STATE
BLUE DRAGONS SET FOR SEMIFINAL SHOWDOWN WITH WALTERS STATE
HCC MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON COMES TO AN END IN NJCAA QUARTERFINALS
HCC WOMEN DEFEAT NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE, ADVANCES TO FINAL FOUR
BLUE DRAGONS TO MEET GA. HIGHLANDS IN THURSDAY’S NJCAA TOURNEY QUARTERS
BLUE DRAGONS ADVANCE WITH NJCAA 2ND-ROUND WIN OVER TRINITY VALLEY
NO. 1 BLUE DRAGONS FACE TOUGH NJCAA QUARTERFINAL MATCH WITH NW FLORIDA ST.
HCC MEN OPEN 18TH RUN IN NJCAA TOURNEY WITH TRINITY VALLEY