BLUE DRAGON FOOTBALL
No. 3 Hutchinson (9-2) vs. No. 18 Monroe College (8-2)
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
The 2019 Salt City Bowl will feature two high-powered offenses and two hard-nosed defenses when the 11th annual NJCAA postseason matchup kicks off on Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons (9-2) will meet the No. 18-ranked Monroe College Mustangs (8-2). Game time is at 1 p.m. at Gowans Stadium.
Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and sister stations KWBW-AM/FM (1450/98.5) will broadcast the game with Rob Dreher (play-by-play) and Randy McKay (color/sidelines) calling the action beginning at 12:30 p.m. with Countdown to Kickoff. The Blue Dragon Sports Network will provide the video stream, also beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Monroe College comes into Saturday's game with the No. 1 scoring offense in the NJCAA at 52.5 points per game. Hutchinson is the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation.
Both teams are also in the top five of the nation in scoring defense - Monroe is No. 1 at 11.2 points per game and the Blue Dragons are No. 5 at 14.3 points per game.
The Blue Dragons were just three points away from an undefeated season in 2019. A 29-27 loss at No. 20 Highland and a 20-19 loss at No. 4 Garden City were the only blemishes on one of the best seasons in program history.
Hutchinson will bid for only its seventh 10-win season in the program's 88-year history. The others were in 2014, 2010, 1995, 1969, 1948 and 1947.
Monroe's football program goes back to only 2012. The 2019 season was the fifth winning season in program history. A victory on Saturday would give the Mustangs a team record for wins in a season. The current eight victories tie the 2017 Monroe team for that record.
The Mustangs' only losses came to Northeast Football Conference foes Lackawanna (30-17) and ASA Brooklyn (36-34).
Both Hutchinson and Monroe have been staples in the NJCAA Football Rankings since the preseason poll. The Blue Dragons started the season at No. 5 and spent five weeks at No. 1, eventually entering the postseason at No. 3. The Mustangs opened the season at No. 15. They climbed as high as No. 7 before falling to No. 18 in the final regular-season poll.
The Blue Dragons make their 22nd bowl appearance and ninth in the Salt City Bowl. The Blue Dragons are 8-1 in their last nine bowl appearances and are 12-7-2 all-time in bowl games. Hutchinson defeated Navarro 35-6 in last year's Salt City Bowl.
Monroe makes just its second bowl appearance, but are making postseason appearances in back-to-back seasons. Last year the Mustangs dropped a 34-20 decision to Iowa Central in the 2018 Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
NOTING THE 2019 BLUE DRAGONS
+ Offensively, the Blue Dragons rank No. 3 in the NJCAA in both scoring offense (44.8 ppg) and rushing offense (233.3 ypg). Hutchinson's 493 points this season rank fourth all-time in team history. The 44.8 scoring average ranks third in team history.
+ The Dragons' 233.3 rush yards per game ranks fifth in team history. Hutch's 57.6 completion percentage is fourth in program history. Hutch's 403.8 total yards per game currently ranks No. 5.
+ Defensively, Hutch is in the NJCAA Top 10 of all four major defensive statistical categories. The Dragons' 215.6 yards per game allowed is sixth-best in team history.
+ Quarterback Mark Wright threw a Jayhawk Conference-high 17 touchdown passes this season. His 59.5 percent completion percentage ranks fourth in single-season history. Wright has completed 132 of 222 passes for 1,621 yards, ninth most in team single-season history. Wright is a run-pass threat. He is also Hutchinson's leading rusher with 570 yards on 114 carries (5.0 yards per carry) and seven rushing touchdowns.
+ The Blue Dragons have been running back by committee this season. The combination of Kendall Cross, Erin Collins, Tiyon Evans and Trey Coleman have combined for 1,602 yards and 20 touchdowns. Cross ran for 433 yards and five touchdowns on 86 carries. Collins ran for 376 yards and seven scores on 45 carries. Evans had 376 yards and seven TDs - a team-high 7.6 yards per carry - on 45 attempts. Coleman had 341 yards and one TD on 45 carries.
+ Receiver Mitchell Tinsley is Hutch's leading receiver. He ranks third in the KJCCC in total receptions with 40, sixth in receiving yards with 534 and third in TDs catches with four. Karim Brown is next with 17 catches, 238 yards and four scores.
+ The Blue Dragons have a Jayhawk Conference-high 48 quarterback sacks, which is tied for fourth in the NJCAA.
+ Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year Latrell Bankston is eighth in the NJCAA with 10.5 quarterback sacks and third in tackles for loss with 21.5. Overall, Bankston is third on the Blue Dragons in total tackles with 58.
+ Hutch has six return TDs this season. Tiyon Evans has a pair of 95-yard kickoff returns against Iowa Western and Dodge City. Mitchell Tinsley has a 44-yard punt return for a TD. Tinsley added a 71-yard punt return and Darius Cleveland a 61-yard kickoff return for a TD vs. Dodge City. Markies Colvin has a 55-yard return for a touchdown.
+ The 2019 Blue Dragons have made a tremendous improvement in third-down conversions. The Dragons have converted 57 of 128 third-down chances, which is a 45-percent conversion rate. The Dragons were at 26 percent in 2018. The Dragons 86.9 yards per game rushing allowed is sixth best in team history.
NOTING THE MUSTANGS
+ Monroe College is located in New Rochelle, New York, and is a member of the Northeast Football Conference.
+ The Mustangs bring some staggering offensive numbers into Saturday's game. The Mustangs are No. 1 in the NJCAA in scoring offensive at 52.5 points per game. They have scored 50 or more points seven times, including a season-high 71 vs. the New Jersey Warriors.
+ Perhaps more impressive are Monroe's defensive rankings and stats. The Mustangs are No. 1 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense. They have four shutouts and seven games allowing seven or fewer points. Only twice as Monroe allowed a team to rush for more than 100 yards and three times the Mustangs held an opponent to negative rushing yards.
+ Quarterback Dominique Shoffner has accounted for 64.2 percent of Monroe's total offense and 42.9 percent of the team's total touchdowns in 2019. The All-American candidate has completed 152 of 245 passes for 2,305 yards and 26 touchdowns to only four interceptions. The 26 touchdown passes rank fourth in the NJCAA. He is also fourth in the nation in rushing touchdowns with 14 and is the Mustangs' second-leading rusher with 388 yards on 86 carries.
+ Clayton Scott is Monroe's leading rusher with 491 yards on 80 carries in eight games. Troy Booker has 240 yards and Marquise Cooper has 234 yards. They average 6.7 and 6.9 yards per carry, respectively.
+ Jevin Frett is Monroe's top receiver with 33 catches for 720 yards and eight touchdowns - all three marks are team highs. He is fifth in the nation in yards per catch at 21.8. Frett comes off a four-catch, 120-yard receiving game vs. Hocking. Halim Dixon-King has 26 catches for 409 yards and six touchdowns. Lucas Nunez has 25 receptions for 502 yards and eight scores.
+ Defensively, linebacker Tim Donnahue has a team-high 51 tackles. Defensive lineman Devin Love and Zahrell Walker has 34 each and Jeremiah Bryant has 32. Jahron Gayle has a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss. Love has a team-high 3.5 quarterback sacks.
+ Defensive back Emmanuel Appiah-Takyi leads the NJCAA with eight interceptions. He also has a team-high eight passes broken up, tied with Charles Amankwaa.
+ The Mustangs average 21.8 yards per kickoff return and have a 95-yard return for a touchdown from Jevin Frett. The Mustangs average 12.6 yards per punt return.
+ Placekicker Idrissa Nikiema is a perfect 7 of 7 on field goals with a long of 44 yards and is 59 of 61 on extra-point attempts. Punter Jonathan Cardoza-Chicas is averaging 35.9 yards per punt on 23 punts this season. He has nine punts inside the 20 and only one touchback.
SERIES HISTORY VS. MONROE
Saturday will be the first meeting ever between Hutchinson and Monroe College in football.
This will be only the fourth time Hutchinson has played a team from the Northeast quadrant of the country.
Hutchinson defeated Lackawanna College 70-21 in the 2011 Salt City Bowl and Nassau 32-7 in the 1969 Sterling Silver Bowl. The Dragons tied Dover College 8-8 in the 1970 Sterling Silver Bowl.