After several weeks of preparation in the extreme summer heat of Kansas, Fort Scott Community College's football team will take the field this Saturday afternoon to open up its 2010 "Next Level" football season, in Brenham, Texas, where they will take on the defending NJCAA national champion Buccaneers of Blinn College.
In the most anticipated game of the opening weekend, the Greyhounds -- ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA pre-season poll -- look to "pay back" the No. 1 Buccaneers in a rematch of last fall's Citizens Bank Bowl, the2009 National Championship Game. Blinn won the title on a last second 84-yard punt return for a touchdown to give it a 31-26 victory.
Fort Scott enters the 2010 season with plenty of open positions as 36 players from the 2009 squad left the Fort to pursue their academic and football careers at four year colleges around the country. Rebuilding --or reloading -- is nothing new for fourth-year head coach Jeff Sims; the team lost 30 players before the 2009 campaign.
"In Junior College football, each year is its own year," Sims says. "We will be a completely different team this year with some different faces on our coaching staff and plenty of different faces on the field; it will be a challenge. You work the players harder than they have ever worked in their lives and they begin to see the results of that work ethic and it helps them gain true confidence."
Sims is 29-6 as Fort Scott's head coach, the third-winningest in program history coach by percentage (.828) in college history. Last season, the Greyhounds won the Jayhawk Conference regular-season championship for the first time since 1974 and won the Region VI Playoffs for the first time in school history -- both achieved by beating defending champion Butler.
For the 'Hounds offensively, they will be looking at finding someone to fill the "big shoes" left by 2009 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year Jasmin Hopkins. Hopkins accounted for 36 percent of the Greyhounds' offensive output and rushed for 1923 yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground in 2009. Hopkins is now vying for the starting running back job at Northern Illinois University.
Looking to try on those shoes will be Sophomores Nick Woods (5' 9", 185, Lawrence) and Jonathon Walker (6' 0", 225, Kansas City). Both Woods and Walker saw limited time in the backfield and on special teams last year.
The choice to play quarterback for the 'Hounds will be a game-time decision with red-shirt freshman transfer Blaine Dalton (6' 2", 205, Blue Springs, Mo.), who comes in from the University of Missouri, and sophomore Spenser Bennett (6' 4", 215, Kansas City, Kan.) both working hard for the starting spot. Bennett saw some playing time last year backing up Dominique Davis, who moved on to East Carolina in the spring.
Red shirt freshman Malcolm Moulton (6' 1", 190, Atlanta) looks to be a go-to player for the offense from his wide receiver position. Moulton's 2009 season was cut short due to injury and he looks to return to the field full strength in 2010.
Fort Scott native Jeff Johnson will anchor an offensive line that saw all 5 starters move-on after the 2009 season. Johnson (6' 4", 280. Soph.) saw playing time on the offensive line last season. Other than Johnson, the race is wide open for the four other line spots and the tight end position.
New defensive coordinator Sean Cherico will welcome in several new faces as the 'Hounds have some players with limited field experience but no starters back.
Sophomore linebackers Sam Quilice (6' 2", 230, Olathe) and Danny Herring (6' 1", 205, Overland Park) and defensive back OJ Shields (5' 9", 160, Shawnee) saw limited duty last season playing behind the likes of veteran All-American LaVonte' David, now at the University of Nebraska, and All-Conference performers Omar Leftwich (Ohio University) and Jamel Johnson (Louisiana Tech University). All three will be looked at to help lead the rebuilding defense.
When Coach Sims was asked if the Greyhound faithful can expect anything different in 2010 he responded, "The philosophy is the same: Graduate, win championships, and earn scholarships. For our players as far as offense, defense, and special teams, everything will be different because we don't find players that fit our scheme we try to fit our scheme to our players."
The Greyhounds face a tough first two weeks of the season as they play the No. 1-ranked on the road and then open their home schedule against No. 6-ranked Butler on Sept. 4 at Frary Field.
When asked about the tough early schedule Coach Sims commented, "in Vince Lombardi's quote What It Takes to be #1, he said the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. We are excited about this opportunity and we love playing in meaningful games."
The Buccaneers return eight starters (three offensives and five on defense) from their 2009 National Championship squad. New quarterback Justin Tuggle (6' 4", 230, Aplaretta, GA) will look to lead the Bucs to the top again in 2010. Tuggle is no stranger to big games as he is a transfer from Division I program Boston College where he started three games and threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles.
Top returners for Blinn include Honorable All-American linebacker Dextrell Simmons (6' 0", 210, Westfield, Texas) and offensive lineman Sean Robertson (6' 2", 265, Copperas Cove, Texas) who started 12 games for the Bucs last season.
Kickoff for Saturday's match-up between FSCC and Blinn College will be at 3 p.m. Greyhound fans can listen to the game on KSEK-FM 99.1. The pregame show will air at 2:00pm with the voices of the 'Hounds, Matt Newbery and Aaron Amershek. Fans can also go to www.991espnfortscott.com to hear live streaming of the game.
Southeast Kansas players on the 2010 Fort Scott Community College roster, listed by school.
Fort Scott: Alex Barner, Soph., wide receiver; Brandon Boyd, redshirt Fr., defensive back; Jeff Johnson, Soph., offensive line,
Uniontown: David Shank, redshirt Fr., fullback.
Pleasanton: Dillon Roberts, Fr., offensive line.
Chanute: Matt Bollig, Fr., defensive back; Damen Hartwig, Fr., fullback; Kevin Richard, Soph., defensive end
Cherryvale: Shane Hammer, Fr., kicker.
Coffeyville: Blake Parker, Fr., defensive line.
Girard: Will Holt., Fr., long snapper.
Labette County: Brannon Green, Fr., tight end.
Marmaton Valley: Garrett Ericson, redshirt Fr., offensive line.
Prairie View: Bryson Moylon, redshirt Fr., wide receiver.
Bold -- Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference game.
|Aug. 28||at Blinn, Texas||L. 26-31-x|
|Sept. 4||BUTLER||W. 14-10|
|Sept. 11||INDEPENDENCE||W. 31-9|
|Sept. 18||at Garden City||W. 45-35|
|Sept. 25||COFFEYVILLE||W. 37-20|
|Oct. 2||at Hutchinson||W. 31-0|
|Oct. 9||AIR FORCE PREP||W. 48-28|
|Oct. 16||DODGE CITY (Homecoming)||W. 21-0|
|Oct. 23||Bye Week|
|Oct. 30||at Highland||W. 59-17|
|Nov. 7||Region VI Semifinal||W. 42-17-y|
|Nov. 14||Region VI Championship||W. 13-12-z|
x -- Citizens Bank Bowl.
y -- vs. Hutchinson in 2009.
z -- vs. Butler in 2009.