FORT SCOTT, Kan. -- A 2011 season that saw his football team go 4-4 with bad outings in their first two games would have most head coaches looking back and feeling bad about how things went.
But not Curtis Horton, the second-year head coach of the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds football team. Horton sees last year as a positive and a chance for the 2012 team to grow with the experience that was not there a year ago.
“We were young last year and it showed with some of the mistakes that we made," Horton said, "but we grew as a team during the season and especially during the off-season.”
The excitement for Horton is that this year’s team returns several key components from 2011 -- sophomores and redshirt freshmen on both sides of the ball -- and will look at the 2012 sophomore class to be the leaders on and off of the field.
Defense is a key to any good football team and it will be a vocal point for the Greyhounds this season as they return a strong nucleus from last season’s squad. Defensive back Kevin Short, a 6-foot-2, 182-pound sophomore out of Florissant, Mo., will lead a tremendous group of defensive backs returning from 2011.
Short led the Hounds and the Jayhawk Conference in interceptions last season with five and is three shy of breaking the school record of eight in a career.
Short will be teamed with fellow DBs Austin Fulson (5-8, 197, Olathe, Kan.), Kaman Holt (5-8, 170, Coffeyville, Kan.), and Antonio Carter (5-11, 190, Columbus, Ga.) -- all four are sophomores.
Fulson was a key performer for the Maroon and Gray defense in 2011, tallying 45 tackles from his defensive back spot.
Returning sophomore linebacker Anthony Curtis (6-0, 230, Topeka, Kan.) will return to the 'Hounds' starting defense after recording 23 tackles in some valuable playing time last season.
On the defensive line, the Greyhounds return a highly touted Division I recruit in tackle Justin Taimatuia. A 6-2, 300-pound native of American Samoa, Taimatuia will look to build on a 2011 campaign where he recorded 35 tackles and 5 tackles behind the line for loss.
On offense, the Greyhounds will have to look for replacements for their leading rusher, quarterback, leading receiver, and most of their starting offensive line from a year ago. But with the returners and newcomers they have in camp, Coach Horton feels they could be a very productive unit.
“Offense starts with a strong front line and I feel with the 'Big Nasty’s' we have on the line we can be an improved offensive team from last year,” Horton said.
Returning from last season at his offensive tackle position is Chris Mayer, a 6-7, 355-pound sophomore out of Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kan. Meanwhile, 6-8, 325-pound tackle Anthony Moore from Kansas City, Kan., anchors the other side of what could be the largest line in FSCC history.
Devyn McPhaull, a 6-4, 260-pound product of Leavenworth, Kan., will line up as the tight end for the 'Hounds and will look to give them a big target to throw to in 2012.
Nashville, Tenn., product Stanley Hagan, a 6-0, 190-pound freshman, will start at running back while Jared Dangerfield, a 6-3. 200-pound sophomore from Royal Palm Beach, Fla., will start at the wide receiver position. Hagan and Dangerfield are both electric players and will excite the Greyhound crowds when they enter the field on Saturday’s.
Sean Strehl, a 6-2, 215-pound sophomore from St. Louis, Mo., will be under center to start 2012. Strehl blends speed with a great throwing arm and will look at both ways to put points on the board for the good guys.
Coach Horton enters the 2012 season with a nearly-new crop of coaches -- only new defensive coordinator Keith Jordan returns from previous years as he enters his third year with the 'Hounds.
Joining Horton and Jordan will be Johnny Cole (Offensive Coordinator), Matt Glades (Linebackers), Moses Harper (Wide Receivers), Trey Pike (Running Backs), and Richard Johnson (Defensive Line). Coach Glades is returning to FSCC, where he was a stand-out linebacker for the 2006 and 2007 Greyhound teams.
Even with the many new faces, Coach Horton emphasizes that the program’s mission statement remains the same.
“We will work hard every day to fulfill the same common goal as coaches and players -- believing that Graduation, Championship, and Scholarship is the 'top victory' for the 'Hounds football program," Horton said.
Home games against conference foes Coffeyville, Dodge City, and Hutchinson along with non-conference Tyler (Texas) and Arkansas Baptist will bring the excitement back to "The Fort" on Saturday afternoons at Frary Field.
The Fort Scott Greyhounds will open their 2012 “Win Today” football campaign against the Highland CC Scotties at Highland, Kan.