HUTCHINSON — Way back in 1970, Lonnie Crittendon set the standard for all Hutchinson Community College wide receivers.
To put that in perspective, when Crittendon wrapped up his HCC career in 1970, the Kansas City Chiefs were the reigning Super Bowl champions and the NFL merger was making its debut.
When Crittendon left Hutchinson, he surely didn't think his records of 81 career receptions for 1,747 yards would last through the Cold War, 10 Summer Olympics and seven more presidents.
For even longer — 44 years — Mack Herron had the HCC record for touchdowns and points.
Herron wrapped up his HCC career in 1967 with records for points (186) and touchdowns (31). Not even Crittendon beat those marks.
When Cordarrelle Patterson arrived at HCC before the 2010 season, those records still stood.
After his two seasons in Hutchinson, Patterson owns all those records and many more.
Patterson, the top-ranked junior college player according to Rivals.com, might be the best player in Hutchinson history. He may also be the best in Jayhawk Conference history.
Late in the season, HCC coach Rion Rhoades told of a conversation he had with former Coffeyville coach Dick Foster, who coached 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier, and NFL return star Mel Gray.
"We went and watched the Coffeyville-Fort Scott game on our bye week," said Rhoades, a former Coffeyville assistant. "I saw Dick Foster there, and we started talking. He's been around the Jayhawk forever, and I asked him if (Patterson) compared to some of the greats like Rozier and Mel Gray. He said CP was better than all of them, and Coach Foster is hard to impress."
It's hard not to be impressed with Patterson's numbers. He had 113 career receptions, beating Crittendon's mark by 32. Patterson's 1,822 career receiving yards beat Crittendon by 75 yards. His 36 career touchdowns topped Herron's mark by five, and Patterson's 216 career points beat Herron by 30.
Patterson also set single-season records this year in receptions (61), points (144) and touchdowns (24). Crittendon and Herron held those records, too.
"Yeah, it feels good," Patterson said after the Region 6 semifinals when he broke Herron's career marks for points and touchdowns. "I hope to stay in the record books so that people remember me."
Few could have predicted Patterson would put the numbers he did. After all, since Rhoades became coach prior to the 2007 season, the Blue Dragons have been more known for a run-heavy offense that often ranks among the best in the nation.
Patterson's junior college career began modestly — three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown at Kilgore, Texas. But Patterson made scoring touchdowns a habit, finding the end zone in nine of the 11 games he played last year.
Expectations were high for the Rock Hill, S.C., native entering his sophomore year. He started with a bang, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns against Kilgore and also catching a TD pass. He continued to find the end zone regularly, scoring in all but one game this year. Patterson had three touchdowns against Highland, four against Fort Scott and four against Garden City.
Even though he didn't have a touchdown catch during a late four-game stretch, he still scored each game. He returned a kickoff for a TD against Butler, a play Butler coach Troy Morrell admitted Patterson should never have been given the chance to make. Patterson then had four touchdown runs the next three games.
Not surprisingly — to everyone but Patterson — he was named Jayhawk Conference offensive player of the year.
"It's pretty good. I didn't expect it," Patterson said after he was given the award following the Region 6 championship game. "I didn't even know about it until the end of the game and coach Rhoades told me about it."
Patterson wrapped up his career in style, catching eight passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns in Hutchinson's 70-20 Salt City Bowl win against Lackawanna, Pa., earlier this month
"He's very deserving of any honor that he gets," Rhoades said. "I think that without a doubt he's the best player in the conference, and in the country. He's special, a special player. He's done a great job handling the success and the challenges all this year."
Patterson has not yet decided what school he will attend next year, but many schools in the Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Big 10 have offered.