BLUE DRAGON FOOTBALL
No. 5 Hutchinson (0-0) at Ellsworth (0-0)
When: Thursday, August 22, 2019
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
The Hutchinson Community College football team opens its 88th season on Thursday night as the NJCAA No. 5-ranked Blue Dragons travel to Iowa Falls, Iowa, to meet the Ellsworth Panthers.
Kickoff at Cadet Stadium is 7 p.m.
The Blue Dragons come off a 9-3 campaign in 2018. Hutchinson finished eighth in the final NJCAA rankings and won the Salt City Bowl, 35-6 over Navarro.
Ellsworth finished 1-10 last season, dropping its final six games of the season.
Starting his 13th season, Hutchinson head coach Rion Rhoades returns eight starters (3 offense, 4 defense, 1 specialist) and 27 overall letterwinners (14 offense, 12 defense, 1 specialist). The 2018 Blue Dragons averaged 34.8 points, 216.7 rushing yards, 160.2 passing yards and 376.8 total yards offensively.
Defensively last season, the Blue Dragons allowed 18.7 points, 73.4 rushing yards (the second fewest in program history), 172.5 passing yards and 245.9 total yards per game.
Hutchinson and Ellsworth opened the 2018 season on a Thursday night at Gowans Stadium. The Dragons racked up 348 yards and limited Ellsworth to 206 yards in a 30-12 Hutch victory.
The Blue Dragons play their seventh all-time Thursday night game. Hutchinson is 6-0 in Thursday night games.
This will be Hutch's fifth Thursday night season opener. The Dragons played Coffeyville on a Thursday to open the 2011 season. In 2014, the Dragons played the Bethany College KV and in 2015 the Dragons played the Sterling College JV. Then there was last year's game with Ellsworth at Gowans Stadium.
The Blue Dragons will face three NJCAA Top 10 teams, two more in the second 10 and two more receiving votes – that's based on the NJCAA preseason rankings. The Dragons travel three times to Iowa this season and all six road trips average 320 miles one way.
Rhoades is nearly a coaching milestone. With 13 total years (12 at Hutch and 1 at Fort Scott), Rhoades is four wins away from 100 coaching wins, all coming in the KJCCC. He has a career record of 96-53. Rhoades is currently fifth on the KJCCC coaching wins list. Hutch's next victory will tie former Blue Dragon coach John Matous. Former Hutch coach Charles Sesher is third in all-time league coaching wins with 115. Former Butler coach Troy Morrell is first with 154 and former Coffeyville and Fort Scott coach Dick Foster is second with 146 victories.