Tabor College defensive lineman Brandon Brown was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive outside of a house party in McPherson in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. He died six days later in a Wichita hospital and two former McPherson College football players have been charged with murder in the case. An eyewitness account of that night paints a gruesome picture.
Butler Community College’s football team lost in the NJCAA championship game for the second time in three years, falling 27-7 to Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Grizzlies didn’t have arguably their top offensive player in West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith (broken collarbone), and starting quarterback Billy Cosh was knocked out on the final play of the first half while trying to make a touchdown-saving tackle … but I’m not sure having both of them for the entire game would’ve mattered. This was the Reivers’ year.
Sometimes, a good coach does make all the difference. In four years, McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber has engineered one of the most amazing runs in KCAC history and made it all the way to the NAIA Division II Final Four this year, where the Bulldogs fell to Northwood (Fla.) and former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino. Swartzendruber’s teams have been to the NAIA Tournament three years in a row, a first in KCAC history.
The Cowley volleyball team entered the NJCAA Division II championship game 38-0 and the defending national champion but lost to Grand Rapids 25-20, 25-23, 26-24. Cowley has two national runner-ups and one title in four years under coach Jennifer Bahner.
For some reason, this was the year that teams from Kansas kept coming up short – specifically three from the Jayhawk Conference that made it to national championship games before losing. In another incredible twist, Butler football, Cowley volleyball and Hutchinson women’s basketball were all undefeated before their losses in the title game. The Blue Dragons, coached by John Ontjes, were 36-0 before losing to top-seeded Trinity Valley in Salina.
Newman women’s basketball coach Jaime Green’s incredibly successful – and controversial – two-year stint as the women’s basketball coach of the Jets came to an end when she surprised Newman athletic director Vic Trilli with her resignation in March in order to take a job as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Missouri Southern. The Jets eventually hired former New Mexico State coach Darrin Spence to take over for Green.
In a big, big way – $12 million well spent. The opening of BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado ended a decade-long saga of a town and a school fighting over how to showcase their most bankable product — the Butler Community College football team. With Coffeyville’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium also housing teams in the Jayhawk, you have a league with facilities that rival most NCAA Division II conferences.
Former Coffeyville football coach Dick Foster coached the only Heisman Trophy winner ever to come out of the Jayhawk Conference — Nebraska running back Mike Rozier — and even he thought Patterson might be the best player to ever come out of the celebrated junior-college league. The Hutchinson Community College wide receiver/returner is likely headed to the NFL after one season at Tennessee.
Even in the Jayhawk, where schools pump out D1 and NFL players ever year, Patterson’s recruitment was a wild ride.
One of the more controversial rule changes to hit Jayhawk football in recent memory came when the league decided to include taxi squads to their rosters this year, meaning each of the eight schools could keep four extra out-of-state players on the roster to play in non-conference and bowl games … and making the 12 out-of-staters that school’s have had to traditionally pick before the season and stick with even through injuries a flexible thing – coaches could change out those spots week-to-week.
10. Pittsburg State’s collapse
What in the world happened to the Gorillas? The defending NCAA Division II football champions were ranked No. 1 into the middle of October and then…
What will become of the senior year for John Brown and Nate Dreiling, two almost sure-fire PSU Hall of Famers? I can’t wait to find out.