Matous Ended Hutch Football’s
Long, Dry Spell
Football fans had to go back quite a ways to find the last time the Blue Dragons had won a bowl game. But in 1969, during the heyday of John Matous’ 15-season career at Hutchinson Community college, the Blue Dragons went 11-0 and won the Sterling Silver Bowl in a romp.
Matous went 9-1-1 the next year, reeling off 20 straight wins over two seasons. Those back-to-back seasons equaled Charles Seshers’s 20-straight wins after World War II.
Overall, Matous amassed a 96-50-6 record at HCC and, just as important, never lost a game to archrival Butler. In recognition of his stellar career, the Hutchinson Quarterback Club named him to its Hall of Fame in 2000.
Matous’ credentials before HCC were impressive, to say the least. He had quarterbacked Pittsburg State to two conference titles and a national championship and had racked up big seasons coaching at three high schools.
Matous was hired by Sesher, HCC’s athletic director, for $500 in 1964.
“I thought I was in seventh heaven getting all that money,” he said.
Because he didn’t have much of a budget, Matous made only two recruiting trips out-of-state during his career at HCC. Instead, he relied on friends, high school and university coaches and former players to scout for him. Because the kids didn’t sign letters of intent then, Matous was never sure who he had. “I recruited right up to the first practice,” he recalled.
Matous hit it big in 1966 when a kid named Mack Herron came by train from Chicago. Herron was no more than 5-feet, 5 inches tall and stocky at 190 pound. He didn’t look it, but he could run like greased lightning. In high school, Herron clocked a 9.5 in the 100.
In his two years at Hutchinson, Herron set records that still stand. He went on to Kansas State and played in the NFL.
More than a few of Matous’ players have made careers in coaching in big programs like Notre Dame, K-State, Michigan State, Tennessee and Duke. One of Matous’ assistants, Gene Keady, switched to basketball, succeeded Sam Butterfield at HCC, and went on to build a powerhouse program at Purdue.
Matous produced a slew of All-Americans like future HCC Athletic Director Jack Morris, who played both offense and defense and setting punting records.
Matous built his teams from the defense up. “If they don’t score, they don’t beat you,” he said. And he crammed the ball down the opponents’ throats with a punishing ground game.
Matous’ practices were so tough; he didn’t even let his players drink water.
Matous also preached the value of an education. “I stressed that as much as I could,” he said.
Matous says he owes much of his success to his staff. “I had great coaches,” he said. “We stayed together for a long time.”
Matous continued to teach at the high school until retiring in 1994. Matous gave HCC football fans two of the seasons the program had ever and kept on coming with great teams.