The "Big Dawgs," the name given to the Greyhound offensive line, have proven week in and week out that they are one of the best -- if not the best -- offensive line units in all of junior college football.
The Greyhounds' rushing attack is ranked No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), averaging 286 yards per game. The 'Hound offense also ranks ninth in total offense at 432 yards per game.
Against Air Force Prep last Friday afternoon, this unit showed just how good it can be as the 'Hounds rushed for 499 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The offensive unit for Fort Scott (6-0 Jayhawk, 8-0 overall) could possibly be responsible for something that has not been done by a Greyhound team since the early 1970's: Having two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.
Sophomore tailback Jasmin Hopkins has rushed for 1,197 yards. Meanwhile, sophomore reserve Justin Woods has rushed for 860 yards behind the big offensive line so far in the 2009 campaign.
"My boys up front, the 'Big Dawgs' is the big reason that I get the yards I get," Hopkins said earlier in the season about his pre-season All American honors. "Without them I couldn't do what I do."
The "Dawgs" consist of 3 true sophomores; Jermarcus Hardrick (6' 7", 300 pounds), Cody Moore (6' 2", 285) and Pleasanton graduate Chris Duggins (6'3", 310). There are also four redshirt freshmen: Zack Estes (6' 3", 275), Anthony Garrett (6' 5", 300), Jeremiah Fleming (6' 2", 270) and Fort Scott High School graduate Jeff Johnson (6' 4", 275). Rounding out the unit are two true freshmen: FSHS grad Nick Wallace (6' 2", 260) and Marmaton Valley's Garrett Ericson (6' 3", 280).
Hardrick, honored as a preseason All-American by the Sporting News publications, has shown that this honor is legitimate by man-handling his opponents from his tackle position. "Yoshi," as he is known by his teammates, has shown signs of leadership this season that it is needed to anchor such a great line.
"The fellas and I expect a lot of each other and we have grown pretty close as a unit," Hardrick said, "which makes it easy to know what each other is going to do. We also made it a goal before the season to dominate the trenches and we feel so far we have done that."
Hardrick, Moore, and Duggins saw significant playing time last year for the 9-2 'Hounds team that won a bowl game for the first time since 1970.
Another key element to the 'Hounds offense has been the play of sophomore fullback Brad Terron. Terron, a 6' 0", 235-pound blocking machine, has helped clear the way behind the "Dawgs" and in front of the backs. Considered by many as the best fullback in the NJCAA, Terron has shown the toughness it takes to play the rugged position.
"Brad Terron is a very important part to our running game," third-year offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Curtis Horton said about the Lansing High graduate. "He is the person that greases up the wheels and gets us going."
Horton has seen this offensive line unit progress since the beginning of spring practice and knew in the preseason that they were going to be something special.
"We knew coming into this second season with most of the same guys that we could do some really good things," Horton said. "The guys have great instincts, they know their assignments, and have bonded together as a unit very well. This is a credit to each of them doing things right and working hard every day in practice."
On Saturday, the "Dawgs" know that they have their work cut out for them when they face the fourth-ranked Grizzlies (6-0, 7-1).
Butler's defense has held its opponents to 210 yards of total offense per game; 51 yards on the ground and 160 yards through the air.
When Coach Horton was asked what the 'Hounds will have to do offensively against Butler, his response was emphatic.
"We are going to do what we do!" Horton said. "Our goal for every game is to line up and get 4 yards every play and 2 first downs every series. Nothing will change this week. These young men know when it is time for the game to start it is time to go to work.
"This is the best and most talented group of offensive line men that I have had a privilege to work with and am very happy for their success, but they know and I know we are not satisfied yet."
The "Big Dawgs" and the rest of the 'Hounds face off against Butler at 1 p.m. Saturday at Frary Field for the Jayhawk Conference Championship and home-field advantage in the Region VI playoffs.
NOTES -- Fort Scott's offense ranks highly in many NJCAA categories. Among them:
* Third in rushing offense, 286 yards per game.
* Ninth in total offense, 432 yards per game.
* Hopkins is fifth in rushing, 150 yards per game.
* Woods is ninth in rushing, 108 yards per game....
In Jayhawk Conference stats, the 'Hounds have these numbers:
* Hopkins is No. 1 in rushing and Woods is No. 5.
* FSCC is No. 1 in total offense, second in rushing offense and scoring offense.
* The O-Line has allowed the fewest sacks (7)....