Football Season Outlook
The 2013 football season is upon us, and things around Dodge City are drastically different. The campus is green from all of the rain fall and beautiful weather, there is construction in every direction which always a sign of growth, the new football field is finished and is one the nicest facilities in junior college football, and the football team is working diligently to add a new and successful chapter to its storied history. Coach Thomas and his staff are excited about the direction the football program is moving, but also understand that it will be a marathon, not a sprint to get the program turned around. It’s not just about the wins and losses, it’s about changing the way we do business on a daily basis in every aspect of our lives. We need to change the environment and culture, and that doesn’t happen overnight. But we’re off to a positive start. The position battles have been extremely competitive throughout camp, and a roster has emerged. Here is a breakdown by position…
The quarterback battle has been intense, and will continue to go on throughout the season. Right now the hot hand is Deondre Ford from Waco, TX. He exudes confidence, and has a quick release with pretty good arm strength. Charlie Wilson will also see quite a bit of playing time. Charlie is a big athletic guy from Georgia and has an extremely strong arm. He gives us diversity in our offense, and will cause problems for opposing defenses with his versatility. Cole Sjeklocha is the other quarterback on our roster and is very capable also. He is from Sublette and had a very good spring and fall camp. The best way to describe Cole is dependable. He does everything right, and is always consistent.
The Conqs should be talented at running back in 2013. Tyreis Thomas leads the stable of horses, and should have a big season. Tyreis is from Rockford, IL and was the offensive MVP for Coach Thomas last year at College of DuPage and the MVP of the Citizen’s Bank Bowl against NEO. He is elusive and can accelerate very quickly for a bigger back, but more importantly he’s a winner. Tyreis won back to back state championships in high school, and helped DuPage to a #8 national finish last year in the NJCAA. Keymonne Gabriel will split time with Tyreis. Keymonne is a big, powerful, smooth running freshman. He is from Detroit, MI and led the state in rushing last year while also being the MVP of the state all star game in June. Providing depth and talent will be Josh Lopez from Great Bend, Toma King from Wichita Heights, and Patrick Prescott from St. John.
The wide receiver position may be the most talented group for the Conqs this year. Leading the group is Michael Thomas from Chicago, IL. Mike played for Coach Thomas last year at DuPage and had a great freshman season. He has an incredible skill set and will be a very highly recruited player this year. Michael’s claim to fame is holding the state record in Illinois high school football for the most TD catches in a game with 6. Devonte Robinson will be one of the big play guys for the Conqs this year. He is from Village Academy in Delray Beach, FL and played last year as a freshman at West Virginia University. Devonte was one of the highest recruited WR’s in the country coming out of high school, and should be highly recruited out of DC3 as well. Kyle Foster will most likely play one of the outside receiver spots this year. Kyle is from Ann Arbor, MI and played his freshman year at Syracuse University. He is big and long with a great frame…he definitely passes the eye test and should have a great season. William French will play everywhere for the DC3 WR corp. William is from Miami, FL and he can do it all. He is an exceptional route runner in man and zone, can block, and makes dazzling catches. Shane Brittain is another WR that will do it all for the Conqs this season. Shane is from Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita and you will see him at all 4 WR positions this year. He is such a polished route runner he has inherited the nickname “Sugar Shane.” Shane also has a big leg and will handle the kick off duties for Dodge City this year. Rounding out this talented group is Mark Smith. Mark is from Rossville and will see significant playing time in the slot. Mark played for the Conqs last season, so he has valuable playing experience at this level and in the Jayhawk Conference.
The fullback position is an important aspect of Coach Thomas’s offense. They need to be strong, compact, tough, and selfless. Playing fullback for us is a thankless job, and it takes a tough individual to get the job done. The fullback position will be a revolving door throughout the season. Competing for the job are Shaq Franklin from Junction City, Jared Mowry from Dodge City, Cody Burda from Lakeside Downs, and Ray Mitchell from Wichita East. All of these young men will contribute to the football team and get a chance to mix it up at fullback.
The offensive line will be a group of over achievers. What they lack in size for college level lineman, they make up for in playing a relentless style of football. Starting at left tackle will be Quamaine Jones from Miami, FL. He is big and athletic, but will make some freshman mistakes from time to time. The good news is he will develop into a force to be reckoned with. At left guard is Josh Hatfield. Josh is from Salina South and was a significant contributor to last season’s offensive line. Manny Castillo from Meade will start at center. Manny had an up and down spring, but an outstanding summer and fall camp. He has improved so much in the short time that our staff has been here and should have a great season. Holding down right guard will be AJ Grady from Terre Haute, IN. AJ will be a heavily recruited guy 2 years from now and should have an outstanding freshman year once he gets comfortable with the speed of the game. At right tackle is a familiar face…Marcos Gutierres from Dodge City. Marcos is the anchor of the offensive line, and has made tremendous strides this year. He has put on weight while maintaining his athleticism, and is a beast in the weight room. The 3rd guard who will receive significant playing time is CJ Walker from Wichita East. CJ had a great spring ball, and supplies a little bit of beef in the middle of the line. CJ has a contagious personality, and you can’t help but enjoy being around him. And last but definitely not least is Jerald Callahan from Ashland. Jerald will be on the field and in the starting lineup during the 2013 season. He’s a big tough guy who can move around on the football field.
The Conqs have a few talented defensive tackles, maybe amongst the best in the conference. Anchoring the group is Vinton Harris from Althoff Catholic High School in southern Illinois. Vinton proves that good things can come in small packages, and is pound for pound the strongest individual in the football program. Vinton played for Coach Thomas at DuPage in 2011. Playing next to Vinton will be Terrell Clinkscales from Proviso East High School in the west suburbs of Chicago. Terrell is as talented as any person in the country at his position. Only time will tell what Terrell will do with all of that natural ability. Aaron Thomas from Miami, FL will be the 3rd DT in the rotation for DC3. He is a rock on the defensive front and can stand up double teams to keep the linebackers running free. James Kilian from Goddard, and Dillon Coomes from Phillipsburg, round out the interior of the defensive line. James and Dillon both have the frame, work ethic, and toughness to hold the line of scrimmage for the defense this season.
The defensive ends will have their work cut out for them…trying to compete for notoriety with the talented group of defensive tackles. Up for the challenge is returning player Jacob Brashers from Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita. Jacob is text book with his technique and his approach to the game is old school which is refreshing. The other bookend is Chris Herise from Miami, FL. Chris has the frame and athleticism to be a big time player. Once he figures everything out, the sky will be the limit for him. Colten Lissolo from Hugoton will also see significant playing time for the Conqs. He has a big frame and a wrestling background, which is sometimes a recipe for a really good football player. Colten will also handle the long snapping duties this season. Also contributing will be Trey Renz from LaCrosse and Rodney Rojas from Dodge City.
The linebacker group will go through some growing pains, but could grow into a dominant one. Leading the group is Logan Orso from Citronelle, AL. Logan was the defensive MVP for Coach Thomas last season at DuPage, and is a bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter version of himself. Playing in the middle is Josh Williams from south Florida. Josh is big and physical and will strike with the best of them when he has you lined up in his cross hairs. At Sam linebacker is Ted Taylor from Miami, FL. Ted had an incredible scrimmage with a few bone jarring hits and an interception for a TD. He’s an exciting player to watch. Todd Middleton is heavily in mix as well. Todd is a Dodge City product and is quietly a very talented football player. He doesn’t say much with his mouth, his play does all of the talking for him. Rounding out the group is Sheldon Bayliff from Medicine Lodge, Josh Washington from Wichita Northwest, and Rodney Cole from Wyandotte.
There’s good news and bad news about the corner position for the Conqs this season. The good news is that the Conqs may have the 2 best corners in the country. The bad news is that the depth falls off pretty drastically after that. Danzel McDaniel will start at right corner for DC3. He is from Chicago, IL and is a ferocious football player. He is big, fast, physical, and imposing. Danzel started 11 games for Coach Thomas at DuPage last season and has made quite a name for himself. He has already been offered by quite a few division 1 football programs, and will have a bright future at that level. The other corner is Darvell Harris, also from Chicago, IL. Darvell was the male athlete of the year for the greater Chicago area in 2012. He also played for Coach Thomas last season at DuPage. Darvell is legitimately one of the fastest guys in the country, and does it effortlessly.
Safety is another position of potential wealth for the Conqs. Leading the group is returning starters Tyrone Wright from Wichita Southeast, and Ross Coomes from Phillipsburg. Both saw plenty of action last season, and both have had a tremendous off season which should equate into productive seasons for both. Tyrone is a talented athlete with good range, while Ross puts himself in good position to make plays with his understanding of the defense. A new face in the starting line-up will be Adrian Burton from Ely High School in south Florida. Adrian spent last season at Florida Atlantic University, and is a pure talent. He can run, strike, and has great ball skills. Providing depth and contributing in nickel and dime situations is Bryce Hofmeister from Great Bend. Bryce can fly around the football field and will keep improving as the season rolls on.
The kicking duties will be handled by committee. As mentioned above, Shane Brittain will handle the kick off duties. Manny Castillo will handle the extra point and short field goal duties. Manny was a kicker in high school, and will most likely be the only starting center/kicker in the entire college football world…maybe ever! Handling the punting chores will be Steve Knoche from Langdon-Fairfield High School. Steve has gotten tremendously better this summer and the ball jumps off of his foot when he strikes it clean. He will be a pretty good one before it’s all over with.