Fort Scott Community College's football team, ranked sixth in the nation, squares off against No. 4-ranked in a key Jayhawk Conference football game Saturday afternoon at Frary Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Two high-powered rushing offenses will take the field and will try to control the ball and the trenches.
Fort Scott (2-0 in the conference, 3-0 overall), is ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense at 307 yards per contest. The Greyhounds are led by sophomore running back Jasmin Hopkins, a pre-season All-American. Hopkins has exceeded expectations with consecutive games over 200 yards on the ground, the first time a Fort Scott running back has accomplished this feat in at least 20 years. Hopkins had 200 yards in a 37-20 victory at Coffeyville Sept. 5 and 282 in the Greyhounds' 45-35 win at Garden City last week. Hopkins is ranked second in the nation in rushing with 515 yards total and an average of 172 yards per contest. Hopkins was named Jayhawk Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Garden City. He was also Player of the Week after his performance against Coffeyville.
Sophomore Justin Woods is Hopkins' relief help in the backfield and has rushed for 383 yards on 68 carries, a 128-yard per-game average.
The running game is helped by a huge and experienced offensive line, led by pre-season All-American tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, providing the holes needed for the running backs to make big plays.
Hutchinson (also 2-0, 3-0) is ranked first in the nation in rushing offense at 384 yards per game. The Blue Dragons are led by a host of running backs. Sophomore Chris Clay leads the group with 421 yards on 53 attempts (139 yards per game) while fellow backs Chris Anderson and Romero Cotton have 296 yards and 223 yards this season, respectively.
Anderson was named Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Week in Week Three for his school-record six-touchdown performance against Highland. Clay was named Co-Offensive POTW after the season opener, in which he ran for a career-high 231 yards and two touchdowns against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
High-powered offenses means a lot of scoring and both teams have done just that in their first three games of the 2009 season. Fort Scott is averaging 34.3 points per game while Hutchinson is averaging 55.7 points per contest. HCC Sports Information stated recently that Hutchinson's 167 points are the most the Blue Dragons have ever scored in a three-game stretch.
Passing will also play a role in Saturday's contest as both teams are seeking consistency in their passing games.
Under center for the 'Hounds is Boston College transfer Dominique Davis. Davis has completed 20 out of 39 passes for 311 yards in three games including two touchdown passes. Davis is averaging 108 yards passing per contest.
Blue Dragon freshman Angelo Pease has completed 21 passes in 45 attempts with two scores. Pease averages 76 yards passing and 44 yards rushing per game.
Defensively, both teams are led by top-notch linebackers. Fort Scott is led by Miami, Florida product LaVonte David and Hutch is led by Myrtle Beach, S.C. native Chip Hester.
David is coming off an 11-tackle performance against Garden City for which he earned Jayhawk Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors. David has 30 total tackles for the season and one interception for a touchdown. The sophomore also has 3 1/2 tackles for a loss. Sophomore defensive end Zach Bowers, named Co-Defensive Player of the Week after Week Two, leads the 'Hounds with 3 1/2 sacks for 22 yards lost.
For the Blue Dragons, Hester, conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week after the Highland game in Week Three, leads Hutch with 27 tackles and five tackles for losses. The big-hitting Hester also has two sacks for nine yards lost. Linebacker Meshak Williams has four sacks to lead the Dragons.
The 'Hounds defense is allowing 24 points per game while Hutch is giving up just 12. The records of the opponents of both teams could show why there is a difference in this statistic. Fort Scott's opponents have a combined record of 3-8 but two of the Greyhounds' three victories have come on the road at tough conference foes, Coffeyville and Garden City.
Hutch's three victories have come against teams with a combined record of 1-10 and both conference wins have come from lower-level teams, Dodge City and Highland.
Special teams could play a key role in Saturday's game. Sophomore placekicker Luke Halsey is ranked 10th in the nation in kicker scoring and has been perfect on extra points, going 13 for 13 in Fort Scott's first three games. Halsey has also meade three out of four field-goal attempts with a long of 35 yards.
Fort Scott Head Coach Jeff Sims has a record of 21-5 going into Saturday's contest. He is in his third year at FSCC and has a 34-12 record in four years of head coaching. Sims is ranked in the top five in the FSCC coaching records in winning percentage.
Fort Scott finished 2008 with a 6-1 conference record and a 9-2 record overall that included a Heart of Texas Bowl victory.
Hutchinson is coached by Rion Rhodes, who record at Hutchinson of 12-11 and a four-year head coaching record of 19-16, including a one-year stint at Fort Scott where he went 7-5 in 2006.
Hutchinson finished 2008 with a 4-3 conference record and a 7-4 record overall.
Parking lots around Fort Scott High School will be open throughout Saturday morning for tailgaters.
The Fort Scott Community College athletic department and football team is encouraging all Greyhound fans to come dressed in their 'Hound apparel and be ready to cheer and be loud Saturday.