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Friday, April 18, 2014

Butler, Fort Scott favorites in Jayhawk Conference

BY TONY ADAME
The Wichita Eagle

Last season, for the first time in eight years, Butler Community College did not win the Jayhawk Conference football title.

The world did not end.

The offseason, however, has.

Butler is the preseason favorite to win the league title once again, voted the team to beat during Jayhawk Conference Media Day on Friday at the Wichita Boathouse. The Grizzlies are ranked No. 6 in the NJCAA preseason poll.

Third-ranked Fort Scott, the defending league champion and national runner-up, was picked second.

"There's a little added motivation," Butler coach Troy Morrell said. "We're trying to win our third straight national title last season and all three of our losses come on the road, and all three are to the national champ and the national runner- up.

"And then, to top it off, we don't make it to a bowl game."

The Grizzlies return just one full-time starter on offense and defense, but both are All-American candidates in wide receiver Marcus Kennard and defensive lineman Cornelius Carradine.

Butler also has former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger on its roster after he was dismissed from the Bulldogs in April.

Mettenberger pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery in May for touching the breasts and buttocks of a 20-year old female college student in March at a bar in Remerton, Ga., and was sentenced to 12 months probation, 80 hours of community service and fined $2,000.

Mettenberger, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, will be a freshman after redshirting last season and was in competition for the starting spot at Georgia before being kicked off the team.

"We did our research on Zach," Morrell said. "We feel like he can be a great asset to our team, and it's widely known that he paid the price for what he's done and he's trying to move on."

Fort Scott was on the losing end of one of the most thrilling finishes in NJCAA bowl history last season, a 31-26 loss to Blinn in the national championship game. The Greyhounds led 26-18 going into the fourth quarter before the Buccaneers rallied and scored the winning touchdown on an 84-yard punt return with 15 seconds left.

"Any coach that would say they weren't still thinking about a loss like that would be lying," Fort Scott coach Jeff Sims said. "We can't do anything for the guys that played last year, but we'll play for a national championship again. It might be this year, it might be in five years, but we'll get back."

Fort Scott opens the season at Blinn, ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, on Aug. 28. They play host to Butler the next week.

Coffeyville, picked third and ranked No. 18, capped last season with a 52-14 win over Rochester (Minn.) in the North Star Bowl. The Red Ravens have a high-profile transfer of their own in Ohio State wide receiver Duron Carter, the son of former NFL All-Pro Cris Carter.

Carter caught 13 passes for 176 yards last season for the Buckeyes before academic issues forced him to leave school.

Hutchinson, winner of last year's inaugural Salt City Bowl in Hutchinson, was picked fourth and is ranked No. 11 in the national poll.

The Blue Dragons return starting quarterback Angelo Pease. They also will have former Hutchinson High School running back Deveon Dinwiddie, a Kansas State signee.

"In seven years as a head coach and an assistant in the Jayhawk, I've never been on a team where we've had the quarterback coming back," Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said. "It's a nice luxury to have."

Butler opens up the Jayhawk season Aug. 26 against No. 4 Navarro at Cessna Stadium.

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