By Aubreigh Heck
WICHITA – Before Sunday, the last time the Hutchinson Community College football team claimed the Jayhawk Conference postseason title was 1995.
Now, the Blue Dragons are returning to Hutch with the title under their belt after beating the Garden City Broncbusters 49-19 Sunday at Riverfront Stadium in Wichita.
It was a rugged start for the Blue Dragons, as they fell behind 6-0 in the first quarter and 13-7 early in the second quarter. Running back Anwar Lewis, who rushed for three TDs, and averaged 3.3 yards a carry, didn’t let the Blue Dragons’ quiet start take away their momentum.
“We just had to come out and play strong, and finish the game hard,” Lewis said. “We just had to talk to each other, build each other up, and encourage each other.”
The Blue Dragons (8-2) have won five in a row and eight out of nine after winning the national championship in the spring. Quarterback Dylan Laible, who completed 12 of 26 passes and threw for three TDs, said he didn’t want to let the team’s slow start to the season hold him back.
“We were kinda tired to start off (the season), we lost those first two games we said we were never gonna lose again,” Liable said. “We just kept working hard and we got into the recovery, we kept busting our asses for everything.”
The Blue Dragons started the season with a 17-10 loss against Coffeyville, and then beat Butler 2-0, a game Butler forfeited after originally winning due to use of an ineligible player.
The question now is, will the statement wins the Blue Dragons have put up during the playoffs be enough to overcome their early-season woes, and can they get into the NJCAA playoffs? The top four teams make it, and the Blue Dragons are ranked No. 8.
Blue Dragons head coach Drew Dallas thinks so.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we belong in the final four,” Dallas said. “We had the opportunity to make three statements in the playoffs and that was our goal. Do I believe we’re deserving of that? Absolutely. Do I think we’re one of the best four teams in the nation? Absolutely. I don’t think there’s many people who would argue that with our performance lately. We hope we get the opportunity, we’ll be sitting back and crossing our fingers hoping that we do.”