The Dodge City Community College football team gave up more than 46 points a game, many times due to being out on the field for more than two-thirds of a game.
There are only six defensive players from last season returning to the squad this year as well as a number of former members of Conqs head coach Gary Thomas' squad who had played for him at College of DuPage last season.
The defensive line has three players who has history at DCCC or DuPage. Linemen Terrell Clinkscale and Vinton Harris both sat out at DuPage in 2012 with freshman Aaron Thomas coming in from playing high school in south Florida.
"We have three players who are a freak of size and strength. They should hold the line of scrimmage to help the linebacker."
Aaron Brashears and Blake Herise are the starting defensive ends at the beginning of the campaign.
"Brashears is not flashy, but he's going to play the defense the way we draw it up. He's a complete football player," said Thomas. "Herise is a big South Florida kid who looks like a defensive end is supposed to look. He's got a great skill set and can run people down. He can play with leverage. He's a freshman, but he's going to be a strong player."
Returning for the Conqs at linebacker is former Dodge City High star Todd Middleton played significant time last season and will also help out on special teams as well as in the linebacker corps.
"He' s not the biggest or flashiest guy, but he's fundamentally sound to make plays and tackles, and that's going to help us out," Thomas said.
DuPage defensive most valuable player Logan Orso, mike backer Josh williams and SAM backer Ted Taylor are also to be key players this season.
"Williams is a big body kid who can play around.. He has all the potential that all Divison I schools are looking for. He's a big athletic kid," Thomas said. "Taylor has kind of came on and we didn't know what we were going to get from him, but he's really come through the last week and a half."
Five players will see significant time in the defensive backfield for the Conqs.
Both cornerbacks are transfers from DuPage. Danzel McDaniel was an 11-game starter for the Chaparrals and already has five Division I offers; while Darvell Harris was the Chicago male athlete of the year in 2011.
"Danzel is big and physical. He's a violent kid on the football on the field and that's why coaches love him," Thomas said. "Darvell is big and long and can fly. He's done a really good job and will be a good football player because of his size and speed."
Two of the other three primary defensive backs are Conq returners: Tyrone Wright and Ross Coombs. The final player will be Adrian Burton, a transfer from Florida Atlatnic.
"Wright is a gifted football player — big and fast and a highly regarded football player," Thomas said. "The way we play, he'll have a big season for us because of how we play at safety.
"Adrian Burton was supposed to start for the Owls last year, but didn't qualify academically. He's a big time player who will move around and play aggressive. Coombs is going to play in a whole different routes and schemes to help confuse the quarterback in passing situations."