By Bailey Pennycuff/Co-Sports Editor
The 3-0 Hutchinson Community College football team has been ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA for two weeks. This feat has never been done within the 88 years of existence of the program.
Not only that, but after the Blue Dragons defeated Iowa Western, they remained at the No. 1 position.
The hype of the football team has expanded over the last week, and talk of their explosive defense has been a main topic.
Although some believe the defense is stellar, coach Rion Rhoades believes much more work must be done in order to get where he wants them to be defensively.
“I think defensively, we have underperformed through two games. You see glimpes of what we can be, but if you look at the first two games, there are not enough negative plays for the offense in there,” Rhoades said the week before the Iowa Western game. “We’re not making enough tackles for loss, and we’re not making enough sacks.”
More specifically, Rhoades said he believes his defense should be giving up far less yardage from opposing offenses.
“We’d probably have to go back a while to find a two-game stretch where we gave up over 100 yards rushing back-to-back weeks … and that’s what we’ve done,” Rhoades said. “I think we have a lot of potential on defense, but I’ve been pretty disappointed overall.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Kirmari Gainous also believes the team’s defense has more potential to be unlocked.
“This defense compared to last year, we have more experience. I actually think we have a great defense, because I practice with these guys every day, and I know what we’re capable of,” Gainous said. “I feel like once we all come together, we’ll be a pretty great defense.”
Sophomore linebacker Lavar Gardner is new this year, but he realizes the promising potential their defense is capable of.
“We gotta fill the gaps in that we need to fill in and we’ll be pretty straight,” Gardner said.
He also realizes the mistakes the defense has made does not define the overall game.
“Like coach always talks about, just play the next play,” Gardner said.
The Blue Dragons will try to maintain their undefeated season and top ranking Saturday at Fort Scott.