The Hutchinson Community College football team is ranked No. 1 in the country for the first time in program history.
Wins over Ellsworth (41-16) and Independence (31-21) aren’t attention-grabbers, but Hutchinson entered the season ranked No. 5 and climbed to the top of the NJCAA polls on Tuesday after No. 1 East Mississippi, No. 2 Iowa Western, No. 3 Garden City and No. 4 Jones all suffered losses in the first two weeks.
Hutchinson has come close to the top spot before, spending three weeks as the country’s No. 2-ranked team during the 2010 season. It was during that stretch that the Jayhawk Conference had the nation’s top three teams — Butler at No. 1, Hutchinson at No. 2 and Coffeyville at No. 3 — the first time in 19 years the same conference had the top three spots.
After two comfortable wins to begin the season, Hutchinson’s next three games figure to be its three toughest tests of the season: at No. 7 Iowa Western on Saturday, at No. 20 Fort Scott on Sept. 14 and home against No. 3 Butler on Sept. 28.
The Jayhawk now has half of its conference in the top-20 rankings with Hutchinson (No. 1), Butler (No. 3), Garden City (No. 10) and Fort Scott (No. 20). Highland and Independence are also receiving votes in the poll.
After spending last week ranked at No. 10, Butler made the biggest move up in the polls after a convincing 36-17 victory over then-No. 6 Snow this past weekend.