QBS TO BE POINT OF EMPHASIS FOR DRAGONS IN 2018

Blue Dragon quarterbacks start the process of finding out who the starter will be on August 23 with the first practice of 2018 on Wednesday at Gowans Stadium (Steve Carpenter/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Blue Dragon quarterbacks start the process of finding out who the starter will be on August 23 with the first practice of 2018 on Wednesday at Gowans Stadium (Steve Carpenter/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

Hutchinson Community College head football coach Rion Rhoades opens his 12th fall camp for the Blue Dragons on Wednesday morning at Gowans Stadium.

The Blue Dragons look to improve from a 7-5 season in 2017 that included a fourth-place Jayhawk Conference finish and berth in the Salt City Bowl. Those numbers are much improved from 2015 and 2016. But the Blue Dragons lost three games by six points or less – a total of 16 points away from a 10-2 record. Rhoades knows the lack of production at quarterback was one of the primary reasons for those setbacks last year.

"For three years now, we haven't been good at quarterback and that's hurt us," Rhoades said. "We have a really good chance, maybe a really good chance to be good at quarterback this year."

The Blue Dragons has six quarterbacks in camp trying to be that signal-caller to return Hutch to 2014 championship levels.

The only quarterback who has been in the system is redshirt Jacob Irby. He took all the snaps in spring practice.

The Dragons also have a pair of four-year transfers in the program in Bart Harris (Tennessee) and Brandon George (Southern Illinois).

Added to the mix are three incoming freshmen – Nolan Arrington (Fayetteville, GA), Mason Schucker (Searcy, AR) and Arian Strong (Muscle Shoals, AL).

"That's the best group of high school quarterbacks we've ever signed … without a doubt." Rhoades said.

"The guys are really picking things up. There is a lot of arm talent in there and it's going to be a close race. If I had to guess right now, I couldn't tell you who the top four is."

Because of NCAA rules changes governing practices – the NJCAA is following those changes – the Blue Dragons will no longer have two-a-day practices.

Whoever is the quarterback, Rhoades will look to him to cut down on the 13 interceptions thrown by the three quarterbacks from last year. Several of those came late in games to stall potential scoring threats.

The Blue Dragons return 10 starters and 22 lettermen from last year.

The season will start on Thursday, August 23 when the Ellsworth Panthers come to Gowans Stadium.