Category Archives: McPherson

Who killed Brandon Brown?


Jurors in McPherson County brought back a not guilty verdict today in the second-degree murder trial of ex-McPherson College football player Alton Franklin, who stood accused of killing Tabor College football player Brandon Brown last September in at a house party in McPherson. Brown died of trauma to the head — witnesses said Franklin sucker-punched him and then hit him while he was on the ground.

Another Ex-McPherson College football player, DeQuinte Flournoy, was also charged with second-degree murder, but he pleaded down to aggravated battery in exchange for his testimony.

Jurors also had the option of finding Franklin guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The verdict is a high-profile defeat for McPherson County Attorney David Page and a black eye for the McPherson Police Department, who were heard on videotape laughing and joking as Brown lay unconscious in the front yard of the house party.

Some questions I have from the trial:

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Beyond the Cutline: Mac Madness


“Mac Madness” 

Cutline: McPherson’s Kasey Miller shows the student fans the championship trophy after the Bulldogs defeated Sterling College 87-80 in the 2013 KCAC Championship at Hartman Arena Tuesday night.

Beyond the Cutline: Just a great job by Fernando of capturing the emotions of McPherson’s improbable run to the KCAC title and a fourth straight NAIA Division II Tournament berth. The improbability of the Bulldogs winning the tourney … they barely made it in the tourney, y’all. Here’s Taylor Eldridge’s game story from Tuesday night, which includes a link to a photo gallery from Fernando. The shot of Miller ran on the front of our Wednesday sports section.

Fernando Salazar: By the time the game is over, you already have an idea of which players or coaches are the ones that are really showing emotion and might make for some good shots. You try to find the one or two guys you know might deliver, but in this case as soon as the game was over and they were passing around the trophy, I was just following whoever had it and (Miller) went over to the fans

Kasey Miller: We’d been through so much adversity this year that at the moment the picture was taken I was just so happy, which I think you can tell, and just grateful to be a part of this team and with this particular group of guys that did this. I’m from Derby, so the picture running in my hometown paper was pretty cool, and I’ve kind of felt like a celebrity since it came out because a lot of people have been approaching me and saying stuff about the shot. My mom came into work on Wednesday morning in Derby and all the people she works with were telling her about it and she sent me a picture of the paper. It was the end of a crazy week of basketball for us, and like I said I’m just glad I got to be around this group of guys and this team.



Top 10 stories of 2012


1. Brandon Brown

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.


2. Butler football loses in NJCAA title game

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.

3. McPherson’s historic run to the NAIA D2 Final Four

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.

4. Cowley volleyball comes up short in bid for back-to-back national titles

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.

5. Blue Dragon women fall in NJCAA championship game

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.

6. Jaime Green quits

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.

7. Butler opens new stadium

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.

8. Cordarrelle Patterson signs with Tennessee

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.

9. What’s a taxi squad?

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.

Thanks for reading.


McPherson rallies into NAIA D2 Final Four


Trailing 78-71 with 51 seconds left, the McPherson College men rallied to beat Dordt 82-78 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II national tournament at Point Lookout, Mo.

The win advances the Bulldogs to their first Final Four in school history.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “Our guys were unbelievable, they never gave up.”

Trailing 78-71, the Bulldogs hit three consecutive three-pointers, with Samson Shivers’ three giving them an 80-78 lead with 14 seconds to play.

McPherson native Chris Crawford hit two free throws with two seconds left to seal the win.

“I don’t know how they did it,” Swartzendruber said. “This group is unbelievable … they just make plays.”

Jordan Crawford led McPherson with 14 points and 10 rebounds. There were three other Bulldogs in double figures – Samson Shivers (13), Adam Bruner (12), Aaron Frazier (11) and Chris Crawford (11).

McPherson plays the winner of Northwood (Fla.)-Northwest (Wash.) in one of Monday’s semifinals. The championship game is Tuesday.

Northwest is coached by former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino.





McPherson College making historic run at NAIA DII National Tournament


Lost in all the hullaballo surrounding the Big 12 Tournament, state high school tournaments and Selection Sunday … the McPherson College men’s team is making a historic run at the NAIA Division II Men’s Tournament in Point Lookout, Mo., continued today with a 77-58 win over Warner Pacific (Ore.) in Point Lookout, Mo.

The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history, where they will take on Cornerstone (Mich.) today at 3 p.m.

McPherson was playing without starting point guard Trent Severs, who injured his ankle in the opening-round win over Embry Riddle.
“We felt fortunate that we could play without Trent, who is our undisputed team leader, and overcome that for a win,” McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “Warner tried to zone us and we really shot the ball well.”

Aaron Frazier led the Bulldogs with 18 points and Aaron Jackson added 15.

“At the college they’ve got a big stage set up in cafeteria. Packed, from what we hear, the whole campus is electrified by this thing,”  Swartzendruber said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

And in case you’re wondering … semifinals Monday night, championship game Tuesday.


Looking at Saturday’s NAIA playoff games

We’ve got not 1, not 2, but THREE Sunflower Slate teams playing in the first round of today’s NAIA playoffs. And I like our chances at a clean sweep.

Here’s a look:

No. 12 McKendree (8-2) at No. 6 McPherson (10-0), 2 p.m. - The Bulldogs host an NAIA playoff football game for the first time and bring a buzzsaw of an offense to the table against McKendree, the co-champion from the Mid-States Football Association. McPherson has averaged 53.8 points over its last seven games and quarterback Shane Mascarenas, the KCAC player of the year, lead the nation in passing with 362 yards per game. Mascarenas set the school single-season records in passing yards (3,419) and touchdowns (35).  The truth, that nobody wants to say yet, is that if the Bulldogs lose here this season is a wash. Sad, but true. Although they’re not going to lose. My pick: McPherson 35, McKendree 14

No. 11 Marian (9-2) at No. 8 Ottawa (9-1), 1:30 p.m. – The Braves rallied from 28 points down in the second half of last season’s NAIA playoff opener against Hastings for a 40-34 win, the first playoff victory in school history. Marian, an at-large bid from the Mid-States, is led by its defense, which is 11th in the country in rushing defense (104.5 yards) and 12th in scoring defense (16.8 points). Sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Shane Gimzo is second for Ottawa with 12 touchdowns and has been a great complement to All-American wide receiver Clarence Anderson. My pick: Ottawa 28, Marian 25

No. 17 Georgetown (8-2) at No. 4 MidAmerica Nazarene (10-0) - The Pioneers won the Heart of America Conference by completing their second undefeated regular season in the last three years and are coached by former NFL quarterback Jonathan Quinn. My pick: MANU 14, G’Town 3

That’s all I’ve got for now. TA

Butler in national title game; McPherson, Ottawa to host first-round games

No. 1 BUTLER 48, No. 5 HUTCH 0

NO. 1 BUTLER 48, NO. 5 HUTCH 0

Butler is going to play in the national title game. Sunday’s 48-0 demolition of No. 5 Hutchinson in the Region VI title game made sure of that. We’ve all been assuming since about the beginning of October that the title game will be played, for the second straight year, in the Citizens Bank Bowl at Pittsburg. And I still think that’s a lock. Now, who will they play?

No. 2 Navarro beat Trinity Valley 57-22 on Sunday in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, so I presume that is the team Butler will face on Dec. 5. Bowl officials are having a news conference on Tuesday, around noon, in El Dorado to make it official. For the uninformed, Butler beat Navarro 16-10 in its season opener Aug. 26 at Cessna Stadium. And that’s the closest anybody has played the Grizzlies all year.

Final thought: If Butler can close this thing out, they’re the greatest BuCo team in school history.

You know I’ll be there.

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How good is McPherson?



So it’s time to recognize what McPherson is – the hands down favorite to win the KCAC, a Top 10 team and, in my opinion, a team that could make some real noise in the NAIA playoffs.

The Bulldogs, 3-0 and ranked No. 7 in the latest NAIA poll, dismantled then-No. 15 Friends two weeks ago and then showed that was no fluke by hammering No. 7 Ottawa this past Saturday at McPherson. Offensively, they’re a nightmare for any team that has the misfortune of playing them. Stop the run? They’ve got a quarterback in Shane Mascarenas who has shown he can turn any of his receivers into 100-yard game guys on any day. Focus on the pass? Bad idea. Preseason All American Aaron Lafitte will make you pay.

And the defense? Fuhgeddaboutit. They’re No. 1 in total defense in the league, and even those numbers are a little misleading because both of their KCAC games this year have been over by halftime. Like over over. Like the other team might as well have not played the second half. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) getting to see them play at home this year, as I’ve heard they’ve got one of the best home advantages in the league, if not the best. That being said,  I think the rest of their schedule bears taking a look at as they get a bye this week. Why? Because I think they could run the table if they can survive two more tests – at Sterling and home against Kansas Wesleyan. And I use the word test very loosely.

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KCAC puts four players on CFSN Super 72

Yes, it’s almost football season. Less than a month from camps opening, if that makes you feel any better. Until then, we’ve got some big preseason honors for four of the best football players out of the KCAC as College Fanz Sports Network released its Super 72 recently. All four — McPherson running back Aaron Lafitte, Ottawa wide receiver Clarence Anderson, Ottawa linebacker Josh Hojje and Kansas Wesleyan defensive back Ken Mitchell — were first-team all-KCAC performers last season and all have legitimate shots of being (or repeating as) All-Americans this year.

Here’s a little breakdown on each of these studs:

Lafitte ran for 1,030 yards and 23 TDs lastsyear and was an honorable mention All-American. Helped lead Bulldogs to first postseason appearance in school history. Transferred to MC from Arizona State.

Anderson, a Wichita Southeast product, led the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,563 (1,699 receiving) as Ottawa advanced to the second round of the NAIA playoffs.

Hojje led Ottawa with 95 tackles last season — the second-highest single-season total in school history — and the James Madison transfer tied the school-record for sacks in a game with 3 against Kansas Wesleyan on Halloween.

Mitchell is the wild-card of the bunch in that his team hasn’t had the same success as the other 3 — but he might be the best defensive back in the league. Or is that Cole Perry? Can’t wait to see KM match up with Anderson this season. Should be something to see.

Out. TA.


KCAC puts three in NAIA preseason top 25

College Fanz Network has put out its NAIA preseason top 25 for football, which, of course, puts all other NAIA top 25s to shame. They do their homework up there in Grand Island, Nebraska, and put three teams from the KCAC in the top 25, and all in a row at that. Friends, winners of three of the last four league titles, checks in at No. 14. Last year’s champion Ottawa is at No. 15 and the league’s other playoff team from a year ago, McPherson, is at No. 16.

And that’s pretty much perfect placing. The KCAC gained a little bit of steam last season with Ottawa’s run in the postseason and a respectable showing from McPherson in a first-round loss. The Braves actually gave Lindenwood, the eventual runner-up, a pretty good fight which showed to me they were definitely one of the top 10 teams in the country. And Friends, incredibly, was almost the third team to make the playoffs out of the KCAC. With the Sports Regulation Initiative going into effect this offseason and KCAC teams able to play 11 games in 2011 after a full spring game I think this is going to be one of the more interesting seasons in the history of the league as far as having a template to see what the improvement is from this year to next.

Ottawa’s biggest question mark this year, by far, will be who replaces All-American Ethan Haller at quarterback. For McPherson, it’s going to be seeing how the team plays without the architect of their playoff run in coach Brian Ward, who took a job at North Dakota State. For Friends, it’s just whether or not they can get back on top after winning three straight titles from 2006-2008.

We’ll get it all figured out a month from this coming Tuesday at KCAC Media Day in Salina.

Out. TA.