Conqs have near-miss bus accident on trip home




Special to The Telegram

Notes & quotes from opening season games Saturday night in the Jayhawk Community College Conference...A lot of questions from near month-long pre-season workouts got answered in game one of the season, and even more will be answered when the eight Kansas schools step out of conference play to go against Southwest Conference teams (Texas-Oklahoma) this weekend.

* Dodge City took it on the chin twice, on the field from Butler and then after the game when a bus carrying the team back to western Kansas was involved in an accident about 25 miles east of Dodge City at about 2 a.m. Sunday. The bus, traveling 60 miles per hour, struck nine cows that were standing in the middle of US highway 50.¬ All of the cows were killed and the bus was totaled but no one was injured. "Our bus was very close to going in a ditch and rolling, but our bus driver did a tremendous job of recovering after the initial collision," said first-year Dodge City Coach Gary Thomas. "I immediately called 911 and myself and a few of our staff members had to quickly shut down the highway because there were dead cows laying in the middle of the road and if a passenger car had hit any of them it would have been catastrophic.¬ It was pretty intense." Players didn't get home until about 5:30 a.m.

On the field, Dodge City had three fumbles (Butler recovered all three), nine penalties for 83 yards and converted only 2-of-11 third down conversions. Said Thomas: "We did some things very well at times and showed glimpses of being a good football team, but we also did some things that bad teams do that helped Butler win.¬ I thought Butler was very talented on defense. Their scheme is difficult to adjust to for a young offensive line and a young quarterback.¬ We will definitely learn from this loss. It will help us re-direct our focus on the little things that separate average football teams from good football teams."

* Hutchinson created five takeaways and scored well with its kicking game (Ryan Weese had 3-of-3 field goals and 5-of-5 extra points) and the Blue Dragons, ranked No. 6 by the National Junior College Athletic Association in its pre-season poll, got a big win over No. 12 Coffeyville (44-14). Said Coach Rion Rhoades: "I am pleased with a 30-point win over a nationally-ranked opponent in the season opener." On the road to boot.

There were 24 penalties, Coffeyville with 16 for 128 yards and Hutchinson with eight for 101 yards...Defensively, Coffeyville DB Devonta' Foster had 10 tackles, seven solo, and Hutchinson LB Brock Long had 10 tackles, nine assisted.

* Coffeyville Coach Aaron Flores felt his team played a decent first half, but then started to come unglued. "The third quarter killed us, but we played hard for 60 minutes. Our defense made some big plays, but we have to eliminate hurting ourselves."

* At El Dorado it was a scoreless game at the half, but Butler erupted offensively and played without a turnover in the second half to win big (41-6). The Grizzlies averaged 5.5 yards on 79 plays (439 yards)...A lot of people asked what we talked about at halftime, " said Butler Coach Troy Morrell. "There was no magical message...convert in the red zone and keep playing.¬ I liked how our how our kids stayed together and fought through adversity. We showed some consistency on offense and defense, my biggest concern going into game. The defense as a unit played well from start to finish. It was a team effort."¬ 

* Give Independence Coach Steve Carson credit, he's honest. Said he after his team got laced by No. 17 ranked Garden City (67-0): "We just couldn't get it done. Garden City looked like a ranked team."

* First-year Garden City Coach Matt Miller liked his team's execution — "I thought our players came out focused" — and effort but said "there is a lot to correct."

Sophomore RB Tyreek Hill was his usual dynamic self (he played only in the first half but had nine carries for 85 yards with two TDs and two pass receptions for 35 yards), QB Akeem Jones played well in his first college game (225 passing yards with three touchdowns and 70 rushing yards and a touchdown) and WR Brandon Snell did his part (six pass catches for 90 yards, two for TDs). "The entire defense played tremendous," said Miller, whose 'Busters had six sacks and held Indy to -17 total yards. "An amazing feat, to say the least," said Miller.¬ Sophomore DB Wonderful (no foolin', that's his first name) Terry scored¬  touchdowns on a 31-yard pass interception and a 70-yard kick return and DBs Darius Jones and Makail Grace also played well for Garden City....Miller no doubt summed up conference coaches' thoughts when he said, "First games are hard to judge."

* Highland was down (24-14) in the second period against Fort Scott before winning (48-31). Said Highland Coach Ryan Held: "The old Highland would have quit (when down). Now they're hungry. We don't get any respect. They want to be the team that puts Highland on the map. It was a good win for us, but we have a lot of work to do to win another game."

Freshman QB Brandon Bergeron (29-of-37 passes for 325 yards with four TDs and only one interception along with 62 yards on six rushes) and sophomore TE Brennan Boland (caught six passes for 97 yards with a pair of TDs) played well for the Scotties.

* Fort Scott didn't help its cause against Highland with four turnovers. The Greyhounds got excellent play from its special teams, including punter Matt Vincent who averaged 40 yards. When kicker Carlos Chavez went down with a pulled quad, Vincent also did well with kickoffs and made 2-of-2 extra point kicks. "That was good to see," said Fort Scott assistant coach Kory Vaught. "We were a little worried going in."

* Held's take on the conference's lopsided scores? "All teams will get better. Fort Scott will cause people all kinds of problems.¬ We have good coaches in this league who will fix issues, and teams will get better."

Said Morrell: "Everyone thought 20 out-of-state players would close the gap on point margins. We will have to wait until next weekend to see if that will be a factor."

"Every team," said Vaught, "is trying to find their identity and the right players. I'd imagine every week (final scores) will get tighter and tighter."


Saturday's games

Butler (1-0) at Blinn, Texas (0-1), 7 p.m.

Coffeyville (0-1)at Trinity Valley, Texas (0-1), 7 p.m.

Fort Scott (0-1) at Tyler, Texas (0-0), 7 p.m.

Garden City (1-0) at Cisco, Texas (0-0), 7 p.m.

Kilgore, Texas (0-0) at Dodge City (0-1), 1 p.m.

Navarro, Texas (0-0) at Hutchinson (1-0) 7 p.m.

Northeastern Oklahoma (0-0) at Highland (1-0), 7 p.m.

Southeast Prep (0-0) at Independence (0-1), 1 p.m.

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