Category Archives: NJCAA

NJCAA Division I men’s tournament/Hutch CC women move into NJCAA quarterfinals

I’m live blogging from the NJCAA Division I men’s national tournament at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson – the game I’m covering tonight is Seward County, the Region VI champ, against Wallace (Ala.) State with tip set for 8:30 p.m. I’ll also update with scores from the Hutchinson CC women’s opener at the NJCAA DI tourney over in Salina (Hutch defeats Meridian 75-42, will play Walters State on Wednesday in quarterfinals). Here’s my preview story on the Blue Dragons that ran in today’s Eagle and at

Seward County 71, Wallace State 52 FINAL 

Seward County 36, Wallace State 22 at halftime – 6-foot-7 Seward forward Daveon Boardingham controlling the game on the block. Boardingham finishes with 23 points and 5 rebounds. Saints will face Columbia State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Schools here I’ve seen (so far, will update): Missouri, Texas A&M, Dayton, Liberty, East Tennessee State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Northern Iowa, Brigham Young, Emporia State, Tarleton State, Marquette, Kansas State, South Dakota, Wichita State, St. John’s, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Creighton, Maryland, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, TCU, West Virginia, UConn, DePaul, Auburn, Charlotte

Tuesday’s other NJCAA DI Tournament scores:

Spartanburg Methodist 61, Three Rivers 58 FINAL

South Plains 71, East Mississippi 63 FINAL

Monroe 81, Indian Hills 69 FINAL

E. Oklahoma State 76, College of Southern Idaho 69 FINAL

Columbia State 72, Gordon 64 FINAL


What’s wrong with Hutch?

I’m starting to think they just don’t care. Don’t care about their legacy, don’t care about doing something great, don’t care about this season. It could be something else, of course, but since they’ve dealt with no major injuries … it’s not tough to draw conclusions.

And what else could we pull from the last month?

They start 17-0 and they rise to No. 1 in the country. And then, Jan. 12, they lost 81-80 to Butler, the start of an eight-game stretch that has seen them go 3-5 and drop to 6-4 in the Jayhawk West with no real shot at winning the league title. Monday’s 76-62 loss to Garden City isn’t exactly the low point, either, because the Busters are pretty good and I’m sure the WK came out in full force to get their yearly glimpse of Coach Eck. The low point might still be coming.

I talk to a lot of people about this team and from that, and what I’ve seen with my own eyes, I’m starting to paint a picture of what this year has been. And it’s ugly. It’s undisciplined. It’s what I think the people in Hutch were trying to get away from when they canned Ryan Swanson a couple of years ago.

Saying all that, I don’t know if you can count them out of the Region VI hunt. Too much talent. But time is running out.

And I’m out. -TA


Joe Mitchell is still the best guard in the Jayhawk.

Five thoughts on Butler-Navarro


Lots of thoughts on yesterday’s Citizens Bank Bowl. I think it’s a game people are going to talk about for a long time, for a lot of different reasons.

Here’s my story on the game, in case you missed it in Monday’s edition.

Here’s five thoughts on Butler’s 13-12 loss to Navarro in the national title game:

1. The kicks

Nobody except the people in the Butler program know what was going on with this team the last three weeks, so it’s tough to pass judgment … but abandoning the kicking game proved to be a fatal flaw for this team. That’s indisputable. It cost them the national title. I asked Navarro coach Nick Bobeck if he was surprised they completely abandoned the kicking game afterwards.

“I wasn’t surprised because I watch A LOT of film,” Bobeck said. “But I’ll tell you what … I learned an important lesson today from what happened to Butler.”

Translation: You gotta have a kicking game, and at least have a guy that can make extra points.

2. Marcus Kennard

Butler Community College wide receiver Marcus Kennard is a sure-fire, high-level Division I prospect. He’s big and strong and fast and can do wonderful things on a football field, as he showed this season. But Sunday, he choked. He dropped passes. He couldn’t get open in the endzone. And he lost his composure. 2 catches, 17 yards.

3. Cornellius Carradine neutralized

When was the last time you saw someone get 9.5 tackles and felt like they weren’t a factor? That was Carradine’s line, but most of his tackles were on hustle plays, when he was chasing down Navarro running backs that had cruised past the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs had 2-3 guys on CC every snap – and without him making his signature big plays Navarro’s offense controlled the game in the second half.

4. Navarro

The Bulldogs touched greatness on Sunday, and I have to give them props. They beat Butler with a backup QB and in the Grizzlies’ home state. That took some doing. Navarro defensive end Toby Jackson’s two sacks that ended Butler drives in the fourth quarter were two of the most clutch defensive plays I’ve ever seen. He told me he knew they were both good hits because he didn’t feel anything, didn’t hear the crowd. Reminded me of a line from Gladiator, right before Maximus leads his cavalry into battle against the Gauls:

Maximus: Fratres!
[Cavalry addresses Maximus]
Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!
[Cavalry laughs]
Brothers, what we do in life… echoes in eternity.

5. Changes needed in bowl?

It was a good game with two great teams, nobody can dispute that. The CBB got the two best teams in the country on the field together, for the second year in a row, and that’s saying something. But Sunday’s game only drew 4,007 people …  less than the attendance of at least FOUR regular-season games Butler played, including the opener against Navarro at Cessna Stadium. Having Fort Scott Community College run this game is something that probably needs to be changed, and the Jayhawk Conference honchos should take a closer look at how this game was run the next time they all get together — from the distribution of broadcast rights to how much control they let the NJCAA have over the event to the people they put in charge. PR-wise, I don’t think they could have done much worse. There’s no way Butler should be able to play a regular-season opener two years ago at Cessna that draws 13,000 in a 1 vs. 2 matchup, draw a rumored 6,00 (they quite counting tickets after awhile) in a 1 vs. 2 with Hutchinson a couple of months ago in El Dorado and then draw 4,000 for a national title game 2 hours away from home in another 1 vs. 2. Something doesn’t compute here.

I’m out. Anybody up for some hoops?


LIVE BLOG: No. 2 Navarro 13, No. 1 Butler 12 FINAL

Chazz Edmond-Paris intercepts Mettenberger on 1st play. Butler loses 13-12.

Navarro gets ball back at own 48, Garrett breaks off 17-yd run on 1st down. Bulldogs drive into Butler redzone and convert 4th and 1 at Butler 14. 1:19 seconds left and now its 3rd and 11 Navarro from the Butler 14-yard line. 4-yard run by Navarro gets ball down to 11-yard line. 4th and 8 Navarro, 1:14 left. They’re going to attempt game-winning field goal from 28 yards out. Sanchez hits 28-yard field goal, Navarro 13, Butler 12 1:11 left. Butler elected not to kick a field goal in the first half at the 4-yard line and went for 2 on both touchdowns and failed both times.

Jackson blindsides Mettenberger again, this time on 3rd and 9 and it looks like Mettenberger might be hurt. Butler punts. 6:15 4th

Navarro gets ball back at own 20 and drives to Butler 31. Big stop on 3rd and 4 by Butler … Navarro goes for it on 4th and 4 and Dennell Wesley makes big stop in backfield. Turnover on downs for Bulldogs. Butler 12, Navarro 10 8:19 4th

Zach Miller intercepts Adrian Nelson to give Butler the ball back at Navarro 43. Incredible pick. 3rd and 4 and Mettenberger annihilated by Navarro’s Toby Jackson. Butler has to punt and six Grizzlies watching ball roll inside 5 … and they let it roll into end zone. Huge special teams mistake. Butler 12, Navarro 10 11:59 4th

Three and out for Butler on that drive. End of third quarter – Butler 12, Navarro 10.

Huge hit from Butler’s Zach Miller to break up a pass and Miller is hurt and lays on field for awhile … but walks off on his own. Navarro fails on a 3rd and 9 and has to punt. Butler 12, Navarro 10 1:25 3rd

Butler starts drive on its own 23, Axon shook up and they bring in Jasper Sanders, who reels off an 11-yard run and a 12 yard run to get Butler to the Navarro 25. Cody Mills 1-yard TD run. 11 play, 77-yard drive that chewed up 5:22. another fail on 2 pt attempt. Butler 12, Navarro 10 2:28 3rd

Navarro, having its way with the Butler defense, drives to Grizz 14-yard line from its own 48 and Sanchez nails a 26-yard field goal. Navarro 10, Butler 6 7:55 3rd

46-yard return by Kendall Wrenn to Navarro 42, Mettenberger finds Wrenn on a 23-yard pass to get down to Navarro 17, Mettenberger scrambles and gets hit out of bounds to give Butler a 1st and goal at Navarro 7, Mettenberger finds Conner Combes for 11-yd TD pass but Grizz fail on 2 pt conversion attempt. Navarro 7, Butler 6 10:29 3rd quarter. Butler WILL NOT attempt any kicks this game, and that might get them.

Navarro goes 57 yards in 7 plays, 2:02 off clock, Garret scores on 2-yard TD run. Navarro 7, Butler 0 12:54 3rd

Butler kicking off to open the second half.


Butler had plenty of chances to score but couldn’t convert. The Grizzlies have been saved by their defense and it seems like the Bulldogs were starting to get some traction on offense before Reese’s pick. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and LSU head coach Les Miles both were in the hospitality suite at halftime. Also saw coaches from Ole Miss, Arkansas and Central Florida.

Nelson finds Clark for a 40-yd pass on 1st down to the Butler 20. Interception by Wichita NW product Teyon Reese, Butler gets ball back with 28 seconds left in first half. Butler runs clock out.

Butler goes 4 and out – least productive series yet – Grizzlies have to punt. 1:39 2nd

Navarro gets into Butler territory at the 35 but a big sack by DD Howard pushes Bulldogs back towards midfield and they have to punt. 3:02 2nd

Butler drives from its own 16 to Navarro’s 4-yard line and can’t score with four shots at the end zone – turnover on downs – plus a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Marcus Kennard give Navarro ball back at its own 20. Kennard is playing terrible right now. No composure. Butler 0, Navarro 0 8:13 2nd

Navarro picks up its first first down, but has to punt after an incomplete on 3rd and 4. Lots of drops so far, maybe nerves. :58 1st

Butler gets to the Navarro 33 before a Marcus Kennard drop on 3rd and 12, Butler punts. 4:31 st

Adrian Nelson gets the start for Navarro at QB and is sacked by Bishop Carroll product for a 7-yard loss on 2nd down, Navarro punts on a 4th and 16. 8:13 1st

Butler starts at its own 27, gets a couple of first downs, drive stalls out and they have to punt. 10:28 1st

It’s about 25 degrees at kickoff, wind coming in from the north. Navarro won toss and deferred to the second half.

I’m live blogging from the Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg all afternoon – No. 1 Butler vs. No. 2 Navarro for the NJCAA national title. We’re about 10 minutes until kickoff.

Salt City Bowl preview



Here’s a little breakdown for Saturday’s bowl game in Hutchinson that could very well propel the Blue Dragons into the top 5 in the final NJCAA poll if they can find a way to beat the GILA MONSTERS!!!!


When: 1:07 p.m. today

Who: No. 17 Eastern Arizona at No. 10 Hutchinson

Where: Gowans Stadium, Hutchinson

Records: Eastern Arizona 8-3; Hutchinson 9-2

Radio: KHUT, 103.9-FM

TV: Kansas 22

Breakdown: Both of the Blue Dragons’ losses this season came at the hands of No. 1 Butler — a 28-0 defeat on Oct. 23 when the Blue Dragons were ranked No. 2, and a 48-0 demolition in the Region VI championship game on Nov. 14. That being said, Hutchinson has proven to be nothing but resilient this season — bouncing back from the first defeat with back-to-back wins — and has a chance to accomplish a rare feat in school histor with a win today: Just the third 10-win season in school history. But to join the 1947, 1948 and 1969 squads in the record books, the Blue Dragons will have to find a way to stop Eastern Arizona’s rushing attack as the Gila Monsters lead the country in rushing at 323.6 yards per game, and have three players that have over 500 rushing yards. Hutchinson, fortunately, had seven starters off its defense earn some type of All-Jayhawk recognition, including first-team cornerback Dorrian Roberts, a 5-foot-10, 176-pound Wichita Heights product.
Last season, Hutchinson rallied to beat New Mexico Military 22-14 in the Salt City Bowl’s inaugural edition.

My prediction: Hutchinson 35, Eastern Arizona 21

Numerous similarities between Newton and Mettenberger

By now, you may have heard of Cam Newton.

You may have also heard of Zach Mettenberger.

And if you’ve heard of both you probably already know they have a lot in common. So much so that I thought I’d break it down right here.

I’ll start from the simple and work my way up to the (slightly) more complex:

Read More »




Here’s my story on Butler Community College’s 1981 national championship team. Hopefully you were able to grab a hard copy of Wednesday’s Eagle to see the incredible job Ryan Johnson did packaging it for the sports cover.

I spent most of my day Tuesday talking to Fayne Henson, A.C. Poynter, Mike Nardone and Jeff Sanders – and each one had some great stories to tell. I thought I’d drop the tidbits that didn’t quite make it into the story here. You know, for the book.

Joking. The good stuff after jump:

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The battle to broadcast the Citizens Bank Bowl



Here’s my story on the battle to broadcast the Citizens Bank Bowl, aka the NJCAA title game between No. 1 Butler and No. 2 Navarro on Sunday in Pittsburg.

The short version: Butler and Navarro’s home radio broadcast teams won’t be allowed to cover the game because of a deal the CBB cut with KSEK – an AM/FM radio station out of Pittsburg. And neither one is very happy about it. There’s also a bit in there about Cox 22, a TV station out of Wichita that does a ton of local high school and college football, not being able to broadcast the game because the NJCAA gave the streaming rights to an internet company out of Florida.

The CBB did a killer job of hosting last year’s national title game – and I’m sure this year won’t be any different. Getting to host the national title game each of your first two years of existence is a big feather in the cap. I mean, CAM FREAKING NEWTON played in this game last year.The BIG 12 NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR played in this game last year.

That this incident has managed to do something to take away from the game itself is really unfortunate. Read the story and hit me back with your thoughts.

See you Sunday.


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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Breaking down the Region VI title game: No. 5 Hutch at No. 1 Butler



I had a couple of great conversations Friday with Butler coach Troy Morrell and former Garden City coach Bob Larson about past Region VI title games, which was a nice follow-up after getting to talk with Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades and star wideout Cordarelle Patterson earlier this week. This is Morrell’s 10th Region VI title game as head coach, and he had some great stories. That’s for the advance coming out on Saturday.

This one breaks down pretty simply for Butler: Win and you’re playing for the national title. Likely in the Citizens Bank Bowl at Pittsburg on Dec. 6, where Cam Newton won it all for Blinn last year. Morrell, who lost a national title game in 2004 to Pearl River at Coffeyville, said that playing for a title in Pittsburg would be a “dream come true” – one that Hutchinson can stake a claim to, also.


FOR BUTLER: If the Grizzlies win, they will likely play for the national title on Dec. 6 in the Citizens Bank Bowl at Pittsburg. Morrell has already won three championships (2003, 2007, 2008) and finished as runner-up twice (2001, 2004).

FOR HUTCHINSON: The Blue Dragons probably learned a lot from their 28-0 loss to Butler three weeks ago. It may just have been that they can’t beat Butler. Guaranteed a bowl game, they have an outside shot at playing for the national title if they can pull off the upset.


BUTLER: Running back Ben Axon was the key in wins over then-No. 3 Coffeyville and then-No. 2 Hutch in the regular season by getting 30+ carries, but he was a non-factor in last week’s semifinal win over Coffeyville. If they can establish run early, then Zach Mettenberger can start looking for Marcus Kennard.

HUTCHINSON: Blue Dragons need RB/QB Angelo Pease, QB Elliott Alford and WR Cordarelle Patterson, along with the defense, to have their best game of the year. Simultaneously.

Jeff Lutz will be at the game on Sunday covering this one – say hi if you see him. And be nice to each other. And read The Eagle. And eat your Wheaties.

I’m out.