By Joel Muhs
The No. 1 ranked Hutchinson Community College football team played its biggest game of the season on Sunday against No. 3 Garden City, but there was another opponent that proved to be an even bigger threat – wind.
Despite the difficult Kansas weather conditions, the Blue Dragons managed to capture a 23-7 victory over the Broncbusters, who dropped to 4-1 after suffering their first loss of the season.
Garden City entered the game as the No. 1-ranked defense in the nation, but it was the Blue Dragon defense that played hero in Sunday’s game.
“Today was all about our defense, there’s no hiding that,” Blue Dragons coach Drew Dallas said. “They played outstanding. It didn’t matter if we had the wind or they had the wind, our defense was lockdown.”
Heading into Sunday’s game, Hutch and Garden City were averaging a combined 93.5 points per game, but wind gusts of 35-plus mph halted the potent offense of the two teams to a combined 30 points, which meant kicking and field position were crucial to success.
“I definitely had to keep the ball lower, hold it a little longer, and give my team a little time to get down there,” freshman punter Caleb Brickhouse said about having to adjust to the wind conditions.
HutchCC will be playing back-to-back games against ranked opponents for the first time this season when they travel to play No. 9 Independence team on Sunday. However, Independence isn’t on the mind of Dallas and company yet.
“We’ll worry about them tomorrow. That’s the No. 1 thing, is that we’re going to enjoy this one today, or at least until about 2 a.m. when I wake up thinking about it,” Dallas said, but still noted the importance of being ready. “In this conference, every opponent you play has the opportunity to beat you, and if you don’t approach a game like that, you’re going to learn the hard way.”
After the dust settled, the Blue Dragons wound up beating both Garden City and the wind on Sunday. However, Brickhouse is hoping the wind was a one-time opponent, especially after the wind gusts aided in a negative 24-yard punt from the Garden City punter.
“No I haven’t, but I’m just lucky it wasn’t me,” Brickhouse said after being asked if he had seen a negative 24-yard punt before.