The Dodge City Community College Conquistadors host the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds tonight.
The Conqs enter the game 3-4 overall, while the Greyhounds enter it with a record of 2-3.
The teams are coming in with nearly opposite luck lately. The Greyhounds started 0-3 but won the last two. The Conquistadors started 3-1, but have lost the last three.
Still, Dodge City head coach Gary Thomas said the way the teams look entering the game depends on the perspective chosen by the observer.
“They beat a Coffeyville team that was playing their fifth quarterback,” Thomas said. “They were literally running zone and zone-read with a defensive end playing quarterback. They were playing their fourth and fifth-team quarterbacks; they had some injuries apparently so offensively they really struggled to score many points.”
Their most recent win, a 26-17 victory in overtime last weekend, came against an Iowa Central team Dodge City beat 28-20 almost exactly a month earlier.
“Then Iowa Central hasn’t beat anybody, although they’ve played some people close: They played Ellsworth to overtime, they played Fort Scott to overtime, they played us to basically to the last play of the game, so they’ve been in some ballgames,” Thomas said.
Iowa Central, however, is 0-7 this season. As one of Fort Scott’s two wins, it’s hard to know how good that win shows Fort Scott to actually be.
“When you look at em on film, they seem to do some things really well,” Thomas said. “I look at similar opponents, but I also look at similar points. They held (Independence) to 31 points and we held them 32 points, I mean those are very similar things.”
With Iowa Central, Fort Scott was tied at 17-17 at the end of regulation, while Dodge City beat Iowa Central 28-20.
“There are some similarities there between at least those common opponents,” Thomas said. “The Iowa Western game I think you can take nothing from either side, we were down big early and they were down big early and we both let it snowball on us, that one almost is a throwaway on both sides because I don’t think it’s indicative of who either of us are.”
Both Dodge City and Fort Scott are 1-3 against shared opponents, each having won their game with Iowa Central.
Since the common opponents and the performances of Fort Scott and Dodge City against each are so similar, there are a few things Thomas said the Conquistadors will have to do to win, though he emphasized that these are in no particular order.
“I feel like we have to dominate the special teams aspect of the game,” Thomas said. “I think there are some things that we can do special teams-wise to capitalize on things that they do that could change the flow of the game significantly.”
Another is the defense needs to play well the entire game. The Conquistadors are coming off a stretch of three games against nationally-ranked opponents. In those games, the defense helped preserve the Conquistadors’ chances at upsets during some of the games, but didn’t at other points in many of the same games.
“We need to play a complete game on defense,” Thomas said. “We were great in the first half (against) Butler, and we were great in the first half (against) Independence, and we were terrible in the second half (against) Butler and terrible in the second half (against) Independence. We need to put together a great effort on defense, a fourth-quarter effort on defense, to give us a chance to outscore em.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Thomas said one of the big factors in this game could be how successfully the Conquistadors run the ball on plays when the Greyhounds know they will run the ball.
“I think there’s going to be 10 to 12 snaps in this football game where we need to run the ball, they know we’re gonna run the ball and if we can run the ball we will dictate tempo, we’ll dictate everything about what’s going on.”
The forecast has recently changed, Thomas said, so that now wind looks to be a major factor, as it has often been in the team’s home games.
“When we talked about the Independence and the Butler game I said that the game was gonna come down to six possessions, because you’re gonna get three going into the wind in two different quarters and whoever manages those things the best is the team that probably will win the game.”
That usually is how Thomas said he sees it. This week, however, Thomas said he thinks differently.
“I actually think it’s the opposite this week,” Thomas said. “I think the team that can manage the wind to their back the best, because looking at them on special teams, I think when they’re going into the wind, I think that we can get that quarter to snowball on them if we can get some stops on defense.”
The Dodge City Conquistadors play the Fort Scott Greyhounds at 6 p.m. tonight in Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.