August 1, 2012
Released on Wednesday, the Blue Dragons start the season ranked No. 10. It marks the second-straight season that Hutchinson has had a Top 10 preseason ranking and it is the 29th-straight poll and 38th time in the last 40 polls the Blue Dragons have appeared.
Defending national champion East Mississippi draws the No. 1 target to start the season. Right behind the Lions is defending Jayhawk Conference and Region VI champion Butler. Arizona Western is No. 3, Mississippi Gulf Coast is No. 4 and Blinn College is No. 5.
Hutchinson also is ranked No. 10 in the JC Gridiron Dirty 30 preseason poll. Unlike the NJCAA poll, the Blue Dragons are the highest-ranked Jayhawk Conference team in the Dirty 30. Butler was ranked No. 12 in that poll which also ranks the California junior colleges as well as the NJCAA schools.
Last week, Butler and Hutchinson were picked 1 and 2, respectively, in the annual Jayhawk Conference preseason coaches’ poll.
The 2012 Blue Dragons, under sixth-year head coach Rion Rhoades, returns 12 starters (4 – offense; 5 – defense; 3 – special teams) and 27 letter winners (14 – offense; 10 – defense; 3 – special teams) from a 9-3 team that finished second in the league, as Region VI runner-up and Salt City Bowl champion that finished ninth in the final 2011 NJCAA football poll.
Under Rhoades, his 2009 team started the season ranked No. 13, his 2010 team started No. 11 and last season the Blue Dragons had their highest preseason ranking in team history at No. 6.
According to the NJCAA poll, the opening two weeks of the 2012 season will be challenging for the Blue Dragons.
Hutchinson opens the season on Aug. 25 in the Cox Kansas Kickoff Classic against No. 17 Coffeyville at Gowans Stadium. One week later, HCC travels to No. 12 Navarro College for the Jayhawk-Southwest Junior College Conference showdown. Navarro is ranked No. 21 in the Dirty 30, while Coffeyville is unranked in that poll.
The first Blue Dragon practice will be Saturday morning at Gowans Stadium.
NJCAA PRESEASON TOP 20
Team 2011 Record
1. East Mississippi CC 12-0
2. Butler CC 11-1
3. Arizona Western College 11-1
4. Mississippi Gulf Coast CC 10-2
5. Blinn College 9-2
6. Hinds CC 7-3
7. Trinity Valley CC 8-3
8. Iowa Western CC 9-2
9. Snow College 9-3
10. Hutchinson CC 9-3
11. Northwest Mississippi CC 6-3
12. Navarro College 10-2
13. Eastern Arizona College 8-3
14. Dean College 8-1
15. New Mexico Military Institute 9-3
16. Tyler Junior College 7-4
17. Coffeyville CC 6-4
18. Iowa Central CC 6-4
19. Rochester CTC 11-1
20. Nassau CC 8-2