(Tribune file photo)
"We were young last year and it showed with some of the mistakes that we made," Horton says. "But we grew as a team during the season and especially during the off-season."
The Greyhounds will open their 2012 "Win Today" football campaign at Highland Saturday night, Kickoff is at 7 p.m. (KSEK-FM, 99.1).
The excitement for Horton is that this year's team returns several key components from last year -- sophomores and redshirt freshmen -- on both sides of the ball and will look at the 2012 sophomore class to be the leaders on and off of the field.
Defense will be a focal point for the Greyhounds this season as they return a strong nucleus from last season's squad. Defensive back Kevin Short, a 6' 2" 182-pound sophomore from Florissant, Mo., will lead a strong returning group of defensive backs. Short led the 'Hounds and the Jayhawk Conference in interceptions last season with five and is three shy of breaking the school record for a career. Austin Fulson (5' 8", 197, Olathe), Kaman Holt (5' 8", 170, Coffeyville, KS) and Antonio Carter (5' 11", 190, Columbus, Ga.), all sophomores, will join Short in the defensive backfield. Fulson was a key performer for the Maroon and Gray defense in 2011, tallying 45 tackles.
Returning sophomore linebacker Anthony Curtis (6' 0", 230", Topeka) will return to the 'Hounds starting defense after recording 23 tackles last season. On the defensive line, the Greyhounds return a highly-recruited Division I prospect recruit, Justin Taimatuia. The 6' 2", 300-pounder from American Samoa will look to build on his 2011 campaign where he recorded 35 tackles and 5 tackles behind the line for loss.
On offense, Fort Scott will have to look for replacements for its quarterback, leading rusher, leading receiver, and most of the starting offensive line from a year ago. But with the returners and newcomers they have in camp, Coach Horton feels they could be a very productive unit.
"Offense starts with a strong front line and I feel with the 'Big Nastys' we have on the line can be an improved offensive team from last year," Horton said.
Returning from last season to his offensive tackle position is Chris Mayer, a 6' 7", 355-pound sophomore from DeSoto-Mill Valley High School while 6' 8", 325-pound tackle Anthony Moore of Kansas City, Kan., anchors the other side of what could be the largest line in FSCC history. Devyn McPhaull (6' 4", 260, Leavenworth) will line up as the tight end for the 'Hounds and will look to give them a big target to throw to.
Nashville, Tenn., product Stanley Hagan (6' 0", 190, Fr.) will start at running back while Jared Dangerfield, (6' 3", 200, Soph., Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), will start at the wide receiver position. Hagan and Dangerfield are both electric players who promise to excite Greyhound fans on Saturdays.
Sean Strehl, (6' 2", 215, Soph., St. Louis), will be under center to start 2012. Strehl blends speed with a strong throwing arm and will look to put points on the board for the 'Hounds.
Horton enters the 2012 season with a new crop of coaches with new Defensive Coordinator Keith Jordan the only returnee from last year. Jordan is entering his third year with the Hounds. Joining the staff are Offensive Coordinator Johnny Cole, Linebackers Coach Matt Glades, Wide Receivers Coach Moses Harper. Running Backs Coach Trey Pike, and Defensive Line Coach Richard Johnson. Glades was a stand-out linebacker for the 2006-2007 Greyhound teams.
Even with the many new faces, Coach Horton emphasizes that the program's mission statement remains the same.
"We will work hard every day to fulfill the same common goal as coaches and players believing that Graduation, Championship, and Scholarship is the 'top victory' for the 'Hounds' football program," Horton said.
The 2012 home slate begins Aug. 1 with Tyler, Texas, in the annual series between teams from the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. The home schedule includes contests versus Jayhawk Conference foes Coffeyville, Dodge City, and Hutchinson along with non-conference Arkansas Baptist.