Hutchinson, Kan. (Hutchinson Sports Information) -

The Hutchinson Community College football team will open 2014 as the No. 11 team in the nation, according to the NJCAA Preseason football, which was released on Tuesday morning.

The Blue Dragons continue a program-record run of preseason NJCAA rankings, upping that mark to six consecutive seasons. The previous record was four from 1994-97.

Hutchinson has been ranked now in seven consecutive polls and in 62 of the past 68 NJCAA football polls dating back to 2008.

Under Rhoades, who is starting his eighth season, the Blue Dragons have started the previous five seasons ranked No. 13 in 2009, No. 11 in 2010, No. 6 in 2011 and No. 10 in 2012 and No. 6 last season.

The Blue Dragons come off an 8-4 season in 2013. HCC tied for second in the Jayhawk Conference, was Region VI runner-up and won a fifth-straight Salt City Bowl victory. The 2013 Blue Dragons finished No. 18 in the final NJCAA football poll.

The 2014 Blue Dragons have nine starters (4 offense, 5 defense) and 19 lettermen (11 offense, 8 defense) returning from last season.

Offensively, the backfield will be re-tooled with a new quarterback and stable of running backs. Defensively, sophomore defensive ends Jeremiah Ledbetter and Marquavius Lewis and linebackers Claude George and Darius Wright all return. The biggest loss defensively came in the secondary, where All-American Jaylon Myers and All-Jayhawk performers Shattle Fenteng and Christian Goodlett have moved on.

The Blue Dragons were also ranked No. 11 in JC’s “Dirty 30” preseason poll which was released earlier this month. HCC was picked to finish second in the Jayhawk Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Hutchinson is one of three Jayhawk Conference teams that start ranked in the preseason poll. Butler starts No. 6 and Dodge City opens at No. 17. HCC will play both teams in September, going to Butler on Sept. 13 and Dodge City on Sept. 27.

Two Blue Dragon non-conference opponents are in the poll as well. Iowa Western is ranked No. 2 and Iowa Central is receiving votes. The Blue Dragons travel to Iowa Western on Oct. 25 and play host to Iowa Central on Sept. 20.

Defending national champion East Mississippi is the preseason No. 1 pick this season. Iowa Western is No. 2 and Copiah-Lincoln is No. 3.

The Blue Dragons will open the 2014 season with two-straight home games, opening with the Bethany College JV on Thursday, Aug. 28 and Fort Scott on Saturday, Sept. 6.

The first NJCAA regular-season poll will be released on September 2.



                                                                                Points    2013 Record

  1. East Mississippi CC                                      200         12-0

  2. Iowa Western CC                                          190         11-1

  3. Copiah-Lincoln CC                                      180         7-2

  4. Trinity Valley CC                                          170         10-2

  5. Georgia Military College                              160         11-1

  6. Butler CC                                                        150         9-2

  7. ASA College                                                   140         9-1

  8. Navarro College                                            130         9-3

  9. Mississippi Gulf Coast CC                           120         8-2

10.  Jones County Junior College                     110         9-2

11. Hutchinson CC                                             100         8-4

12. Arizona Western College                             90           2-10

13. Tyler Junior College                                      80           9-2

14. Nassau CC                                                     70           9-2

15. Snow College                                                 60           5-6

16. Scottsdale CC                                                50           10-1

17. Dodge City CC                                              40           6-4

18. Rochester CTC                                              30           10-2

19. Itawamba CC                                               20           6-4

20. Central Lake College-Brainerd                  10           9-2

     Others receiving votes – Hinds CC (7-3); Mesa CC (8-3); Iowa Central CC (6-5); New Mexico Military Institute (8-4); Dakota College at Bottineau (8-3).