Powder Puff football ends, flag football begins

MILES MARABLE III
Staff Writer 

The Red Divas won last Tuesday‘s Powder Puff football tournament.  Five teams participated and many fans came out to support.

Ross Costanzo, assistant director of student life said he was pleased with the participation.

“It turned out great; all the girls had fun,” Costanzo said. “It got pretty rowdy at times but it was nice to see them mingle with one another and hopefully they made some new friends.”

The men’s flag football tournament continues at 6 p.m. Tuesday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

The Juggernauts will face The Police Academy in the last first-round game.

The winner will face Squad in the second round of the winners bracket and the losing team will face Beast Mode in the semi-finals of the losers bracket.

The Loony Tunes will play We Are White Oak in the semi-finals of the losers bracket, and the following Tuesday The Ruff Riders will play The Back Ups in the second round of the winners bracket.

Rangers 1-0 in conference after 24-19 victory

Devin Brooks
Sports Writer

The Rangers escaped with a 24-19 victory over conference foe Trinity Valley Community College for its first win of the season.

KC took control of the game late in the first quarter.  Running back Eddie Smith scored a 7-yard touchdown, capping a 15-play, 46-yard drive with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.

TVCC attempted a field goal, but a host of Rangers stormed over the defensive line and blocked the kick.

Linebacker Derek David recovered the blocked kick. KC forced TVCC to fumble on the kickoff, and David recovered the fumble.

On the next offensive possession, KC running back Ladaedrix Payton rushed for a 6-yard touchdown with 11:14 left in the first half to put KC up, 14-0.

TVCC quarterback Ryan Polite scored on a 6-yard quarterback sneak with 4:06 left in the quarter. KC led at halftime, 14-7.

TVCC scored first in the second half, as quarterback Polite connected with receiver Jarvis Baxter for a 14-yard touchdown. TVCC missed the extra point, putting the score at 14-13.

KC scored on their next possession as quarterback Tanner Tausch drove his offense 72 yards down the field. He threw a 19-yard pass to wide-open tight end Colin Jeter for the touchdown. The point-after made it 21-13.

KC’s defense came into effect late in the third quarter. David forced a fumble as he wrapped up TVCC’s running back Tavorreon Dickerson.

Safety Sam Williams recovered the fumble on KC’s 48 yard line.

KC linebacker Devin Williams intercepted a tipped pass on the 45-yard line, which would have put TVCC in scoring position.

After the KC offense drove 73 yards down the field, kicker Luis Sanchez aced a 32-yard field goal to bump the KC lead up to 24-13.

TVCC scored again with 2:12 left in the game, putting the score at 24-19. They failed to convert the 2-point conversion.

Tausch was 18-24 with one touchdown pass and no interceptions.

Running backs Smith and Payton rushed 137 yards combined on 35 carries with one touchdown each.

The Rangers will travel to Corsicana this weekend to take on Navarro College in their second conference game.

The game begins at 7 p.m.

ColinJeeterbyKristopherDobbins

TVCC next challenge for Rangers

Jeffery Jamerson
Sports Writer

After a lopsided 56-24 loss to Tyler Junior College, KC looks to rebound as the Rangers now prepare for conference play against Trinity Valley Junior College.

Coach J.J. Eckert is preparing his team far this week’s second home game.

“I’m not so worried about Trinity Valley more than us,” Eckert said.

TJC special team’s work, and a lack of KC special team performance, allowed the Apaches to start drives numerous times with in the KC 35 yard line. On average, it took TJC 27.8 yards to score a touchdown.

Eckert said that the special teams needed improvement as well as closing their turnover margin. KC allowed four turnovers and only caused two.

“Eighty-five percent of the time, the team with less turnovers wins the game,” Eckert said.

Excluding linebacker Derek David’s shoulder sprain, Eckert said the team is healthy.

KC will take the field against Trinity Valley, 1-1, which is coming off a 72-7 win against No.12 Coffeyville Community College in their Texas-Kansas Junior College Challenge.

The game starts at 7 p.m. at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

Kilgore College Sports Network is offering live video streams of KC home football games. The direct link to watch the games live is www.ncjaa.com/kilgorecollege. The webcast will be a simulcast with the KDOK Radio broadcast. Local radio stations are 1240 AM and 105.3 FM in Kilgore; and 101.9 FM in Longview.

Turnovers contribute to defeat

DEVIN BROOKS
Sports Writer

KC failed to bounce back from its opening loss and was defeated by archrival Tyler Junior College Apaches, 56-24, in its first home game last Saturday night.

Special team errors and penalties plagued KC all game long. KC recorded three special teams turnovers and five turnovers in all. They also left plenty of dirty laundry across the field, with 10 penalties for 77 yards.

KC started off behind and never recovered. TJC returned the opening kickoff for 39 yards, putting the offensive unit in good scoring position. The Apaches didn’t waste any time putting points on the board as quarterback Randy Price rushed for a 6-yard touchdown on the quarterback keeper with 12:57 left in the opening quarter.

KC fumbled on the punt return, TJC took advantage of the great field position and scored another touchdown with 4:09 left in the first quarter. After a KC three-and-out, Price hooked up with receiver Lamar Carraway for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 left in the first quarter. TJC led KC 21-0 after one quarter.

Running back Ladaedrix Payton scored KC’s first touchdown as he trucked in for a 13-yard run with 12:29 left in the first half, capping an 11-play, 83-yard drive. KC’s defense fed off the momentum from Payton’s touchdown and made some highlight plays.

Defensive captain Michael Mathis intercepted Price’s pass attempt downfield.

KC’s offense couldn’t capitalize on the turnover as they went three and out. On the next possession, freshman defensive end De’Andre Glover recovered a TJC fumble that three members from the KC defensive line forced on TJC’s 33-yard line. Kicker Luis Sanchez boomed a 30-yard field goal straight through the middle of the uprights, trimming the lead to 21-10 at the end of the half.

KC came out of the locker room re-energized and ready to make a comeback. However, they would have to play the second half without the majority of the crowd present. After halftime performances, KC fans were exiting the stands and heading to their vehicles.

This didn’t seem to bother KC’s running back Payton as he broke off three straight long runs of 11, 11 and 15-yards to start the second half.

Following those three runs, running back Eddie Smith added a 12-yard run that put KC on the 23-yard line and in scoring position. It looked like KC was going to score and trim the lead even more.

KC got penalized for a personal foul and backtracked 15-yards. Then the offensive line got happy feet and was penalized for a false start. KC was moved out of scoring position and field goal range. The Rangers were forced to punt.

TJC scored on its next drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by running back Terrance Taylor, pushing the lead to 28-10.

On the kickoff, KC punt returner Morris Williams fumbled the catch and TJC’s Treavor Pugh recovered on KC’s 14-yard line. TJC scored three plays later as Price threw a little 2-yard pass to a tight end Cole Staudt, who was wide open in the back of the end zone, pushing the score to 35-10.

On KC’s next offensive possession Tausch tried to hook up with receiver Derrick Ledet, but TJC’s Caleb Williams intercepted on the 25-yard line. The KC defense forced TJC to punt, bringing Tausch and the KC offense back on the field. After a couple of 12-yard runs from running backs Payton and Jeremiah Baines, Tausch electrified the crowd as he threw a 53-yard bomb to tight end Chris Chumley for the touchdown. With 8:17 left in the third quarter KC trimmed the lead to 35-17.

This touchdown gave KC new hope as they looked to make a second-half comeback.

TJC wasn’t going to let that happen. Randy Price kept the ball on a QB keeper and ran it all the way to pay dirt for a 30-yard touchdown with 4:52 left in the third. TJC increased the lead to 42-17. TJC scored on its next two possessions, with its last touchdown coming on a 12-yard run by running back Taylor.

KC scored its last touchdown of the game on a 41-yard breakaway run by Smith with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter, capping a 83-yard scoring drive.

KC quarterback Tausch went 10-21 for 141 yards, with one interception, one lost fumble and one touchdown pass. Running backs Payton and Smith combined for over 200 yards rushing with one touchdown each.

KC’s defense forced two turnovers, an interception and a fumble.

TJC quarterback Price had 250 yards of total offense with three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

The Rangers look to rebound and get their first win of the season when they host Trinity Valley Community College at 7 p.m. next Saturday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

Kristopher Dobbins / THE FLARE
Kristopher Dobbins / THE FLARE
Tailback Eddie Smith looks for daylight in the first half against TJC.

 

 

Errors doom Rangers vs. TJC, 56-24.

DEVIN BROOKS
Staff Writer

KC failed to bounce back from its opening loss and was defeated by their archrival Tyler Junior College Apaches in its opening home game, 56-24 last Saturday night. Special team errors and penalties plagued KC all game long. KC had three special teams turnovers and five turnovers in all. They also had a lot of dirty laundry all over the field as they were penalized 10 times for 77 yards.

KC started off behind and couldn’t recover. TJC returned the opening kickoff for 39 yards, putting the offensive unit in good scoring position. They didn’t waste any time putting points on the board as quarterback Randy Price rushed for a six yard touchdown on the quarterback keeper with 12:57 left in the opening quarter.

After KC fumbled on the punt return, TJC took advantage of the great field position and scored another touchdown with 4:09 left in the first quarter. After a KC three and out, Price hooked up with receiver Lamar Carraway for a 40-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 left in the first quarter. TJC led KC 21-0 after one quarter.

Running back Ladaedrix Payton was responsible for KC’s first touchdown as he trucked in for a 13-yard run with 12:29 left in the first half, capping an 11-play 83-yard drive.  KC’s defense fed off the momentum from Payton’s touchdown and made some highlight plays. Defensive Captain Michael Mathis intercepted Price’s pass attempt downfield.  Unfortunately, KC’s offense couldn’t capitalize on the turnover as they went three and out.  On the next possession freshman defensive end, DE ‘Andre Glover recovered a TJC fumble that three members from the KC defensive line forced on TJC’s 33-yard line with 5:42 left in the first half.  Kicker Luis Sanchez boomed a 30-yard field goal straight through the middle of the uprights with 1:53 left in the first half, trimming the lead to 21-10 at the end of the half.

KC came out of the locker room re-energized and ready to make a comeback. However, they would have to play the second half, without the majority of the crowd there. After the halftime performances, KC fans were exiting the stands and heading to their cars.

This didn’t seem to bother KC’s running back Payton as he broke off three straight long runs of 11, 11, and 15-yards to start the second half.  Following those three monster runs, Eddie Smith added a 12-yard run that put KC on the 23-yard line and in scoring position. It looked like KC was going to score and trim the lead even more.

Unfortunately KC got penalized for a personal foul and backtracked 15-yards. Then the offensive line got happy feet and they were penalized for a false start. KC was moved out of scoring position and field goal range. The Rangers started the drive strong, but finished weak and was forced to punt.

TJC scored on its next drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by running back Terrance Taylor with 10:30 left in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 28-10.

On the kickoff, KC punt returner Morris Williams fumbled the catch and TJC’s Treavor Pugh recovered on KC’s 14-yard line. TJC scored three plays later as Price threw a little two-yard pass to a tight end Cole Staudt, who was wide open in the back of the end zone, pushing the score to 35-10 with 9:50 left in the third quarter.

On KC’s next offensive possession Tausch tried to hook up with receiver Derrick Ledet, but TJC’s Caleb Williams intercepted on the 25-yard line. The KC defense forced TJC to punt on its offensive drive, bringing Tausch and the KC offense back on the field. After a couple of 12-yard runs from running backs Payton and Jeremiah Baines, Tanner Tausch electrified the crowd as he threw a 53-yard bomb to tight end Chris Chumley for the touchdown. With 8:17 left in the 3rd quarter KC trimmed the lead to 35-17. This touchdown gave KC new hope as they looked to make a second-half comeback.

Unfortunately, TJC wasn’t going to let that happen. Randy Price kept the ball on a QB keeper and ran it all the way to pay dirt for a 30-yard touchdown with 4:52 left in the 3rd. TJC increased the lead to 42-17. KC’s next offensive possession didn’t go well. Tausch fumbled the ball while trying to attempt a short pass to one of his receivers. TJC recovered the fumble. TJC went to score on their next two possessions, with their last touchdown coming on a 12 yard run by running back Taylor with 9:37 left in the game.

KC scored their last touchdown of the game coming on a 41-yard breakaway run by running back Eddie Smith with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter, on an 83-yard scoring drive.  TJC quarterback Price had 250 yards of total offense with three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

KC quarterback Tausch went 10-21 for 141 yards, with one interception, one lost fumble, and one touchdown pass. Running backs Payton and Smith combined for over 150 yards rushing with one touchdown each. KC’s defense forced two turnovers, an interception and a fumble.

The Rangers will look to rebound and get their first win of the season, as they host Trinity Valley Community College at 7 p.m. next Saturday.

Scoring Summary

1st quarter-      12:57     6 plays 39 yards     7-0

1st quarter-      4:09        3 plays 23 yards     14-0

1st quarter-      1:27        5 plays 62 yards     21-0

2nd quarter-     12: 29     11 plays 83 yards   21-7

2nd quarter-     1:53        10 plays 36 yards   21-10

3rd quarter-     10:30      5 plays 91 yards     28-10

3rd quarter-     9:50        4 plays 14 yards     35-10

3rd quarter-     8:17        4 plays 81 yards     35-17

3rd quarter-     4:52        3 plays 34 yards     42-17

4th quarter-     14:54      6 plays 29 yards     49-17

4th quarter-     9:37        7 plays 51 yards     56-17

4th quarter-     5:49        6 plays 83 yards     56-24

 

 

Rangers drop season opener

MILES MARABLE and DEVIN BROOKS
Staff Writers

The KC Rangers lost its season opening game Saturday on a road trip to the Dodge City (Kansas) Community College Conquistadors, 27-16.

Coach J.J. Eckert was disappointed in the loss. “The first game of the year you have to be very sound in regards to not defeating yourself, and we did not do that,” he said. “I’m talking about turnovers. I’m talking about field position. I’m talking about over all conditioning. Those are three areas that we did not do a very good job.”

KC scored first with a 98-yard drive capped off with a touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner Tausch to tight end Andrew Peterson to give KC a 7-0 lead.

After a Dodge City touchdown, cornerback Daniel Lopez returned a blocked point-after try for two points to give KC a 9-6 lead.

Going into the half, KC was down 19-9. KC’s only other score came from a blocked field goal by defensive lineman Cliff Butler, which was returned 85 yards by linebacker Joe Lynch for a touchdown.

Offensively KC had 321 yards of total offense but committed four costly turnovers. Eckert said anytime you commit four turnovers you’re not going to win many games.

Tausch  threw for 225 yards along with one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Running back Eddie Smith rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries averaging 5.7 yards per carry.  He also had two fumbles.

Dodge City quarterback Deondre Ford threw for three touchdowns over the KC defense.  Lynch and Butler highlighted the Ranger defense with a combined 22 tackles and five tackles for losses totaling 21 yards.

KC will play archrival Tyler Junior College in the home opener at 7p.m. Saturday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

Eckert said the 1-0 Apaches will pose a challenge. “We will have our hands full and I hope that we’re able to step up to the challenge as a football team and hopefully we can go out and play a lot better as a football team,” he said.

Football spring game Thursday

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

It is not quite August yet but it is never too early for football in Texas.

The KC Football spring game is set to take place 4 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

“We are all just ready and excited to play some football,”  said head coach J.J. Eckert.

The Rangers are coming off of a great 2012 campaign. They had an overall record of 8-1 and went 5-1 in conference play, getting a bowl bid to the Inaugural Brazos Valley Bowl where they suffered a loss to Northwest Mississippi Community College.

KC will have a few vacant spots available after losing three All-Americans.

Linebacker Charles Woods was also the National Defensive player of the year, cornerback James Jones signed with University of North Texas and wide receiver Ed’Marques Batties.

The spring game will allow athletes who did not find much playing time last season an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. Quarterback Tanner Tausch and defensive end Cooper Washington will be key players to keep an eye on.

Hall of Fame chosen

MASON MEHRENS
Staff Writer

KC will honor former standout athletes and contributors at its annual Hall of Fame Weekend in the fall.

A benefit golf tournament is set for Friday, Oct. 18, and Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced during a luncheon 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, in the Devall Ballroom on the Kilgore campus.

Hall of Fame members will be recognized during halftime of the KC versus Southeast Prep football game at 3 p.m. that afternoon.

“I always look forward to the Hall of Fame event because it is one of the most inspirational and motivational events of the year,” said Jimmy Rieves, athletic director.

“It is such a hard task to narrow down all of the great student-athletes and contributors who have come through our doors over the years to select a few outstanding people each year to honor.”

The golf tournament will be a two-man scramble at Southern Hills Golf Course in Gladewater, sponsored by KC and Trinity Mother Francis Hospital.

All proceeds will benefit KC athletics.

Rieves says there is still plenty of time to register a team.

The college is also looking for hole sponsors for the golf tournament and businesses to donate door prizes.

For more information, contact Gail Jackson, athletic secretary, at 903-988-7537.

 

Hall of Fames inductees

FOOTBALL:

•Kyle Cunningham (player from 1978-79)

•C.G. Mata (player from 1961-62)

•Leonard Carey (player in 1969)

MEN’S BASKETBALL:

•Tom Farrell (player in 1966)

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

•Cheron Wells (player in 1989)

TEAM:

•1993-94 Men’s Basketball Team

CONTRIBUTOR:

•David Castles: KC instructor, former coach and athletic director

Former Ranger QB impresses scouts at NFL draft combine

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

Lane Johnson, listed at 6 feet 6 inches, 330 pounds, ran the second fastest 40-yard dash of all offensive linemen, clocking in an official time of 4.72 seconds.

Last weekend collegiate athletes showcased their skills at the National Football League Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

Oklahoma offensive tackle and former KC quarterback Lane Johnson showed up and definitely impressed scouts with a steller performance.

According to NFL.com, scouts saw potential from Johnson’s growth throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons due to his athleticism, strength and solid technique despite his lack of experience.

Now Johnson will have to get ready for the interview process. It was reported he met with the Cincinnati Bengals this week and that he received a random assortment of questions. He told The Mighty 1090 radio in San Diego it was the weirdest meeting he has ever been in asking him to remember an assortment of numbers and repeat them in reverse order.

The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 25 and Johnson may well be shaking hands with NFL commissioner Rodger Goddell on national television.

National Football Signing Day scatters Rangers across nation

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

The first Wednesday in February could be considered a national holiday for college football fans. That’s right, National Signing Day.

It’s more than just choosing a new team, but a new home, new friends and new campus.

For the KC football team, that means losing many of their key players from its  8-3 2012 team.

Wide receiver Ed’Marques Batties, who was a NJCAA Second Team Offensive All-American, signed with  Middle Tennessee State.

“I felt at home there,” Batties said. “I enjoyed the coaches and they make their team feel like a family.”

Cornerback James Jones, who was a NJCAA All-American honorable mention, will be taking his talents about 160 miles west to the University of North Texas in Denton.

He is one of four KC football players who have signed with Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The other two FBS signees include tight end Steven Borden  with the University of Kentucky and defensive lineman DeAngelo Brooks, who will head across the state border to Louisiana Tech University.

One of the biggest mysteries was linebacker Charles Woods, who decided to sign with Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Woods was named NJCAA National Defensive Player of the Year for 2012 and was named to the NJCAA First Team All-Defense Team.

Other notable players who signed were safety DeMarcus Armstrong (Minot State University); defensive lineman Paul Brown  (Midwestern State University); quarterback Ty Chapa (Northwestern Oklahoma State University); offensive lineman Greg Lunceford (Southeastern Oklahoma State University); and offensive lineman Tramon Shead (Lamar University).

Former KC Ranger off to NFL Draft

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

The big uglies working the offensive line aren’t always the most appealing players in the NFL Draft, but tell that to Oklahoma Sooner offensive tackle and former KC player Lane Johnson who impressed scouts during this past week’s Senior Bowl.

Johnson played one year at KC back in 2008 and his only involvement working with the offensive line was standing under center as a quarterback.

During his quarterback campaign at KC, Johnson was listed at 6’6 230 pounds. According to the official University of Oklahoma athletic website SoonerSports.com Johnson has put on necessary weight, now coming in at 303 pounds.

Johnson completed 32 of 61 attempts, at KC, throwing 510-yards and three touchdowns. He also had the opportunity to run the ball, rushing for 24 yards in 17 attempts and one TD.

During KC’s 2009 spring off-season, Johnson was moved over to tight-end until he transferred to Oklahoma where he played multiple positions. The Sooners lined him up as a tight-end, defensive end, right tackle his junior year. His senior year he found a home at left tackle.

This year Johnson was named Third Team All-American by CBSSports.com, All-Big 12 Second Team by coaches and Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

CBSSports.com has Johnson as No. 11 in its Top NFL Draft Prospects and No. 3 of all offensive tackles behind Texas A&M’s Luke Jockel, who is predicted to be this year’s No. 1 overall pick, and Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.

Rangers to host football tryouts Saturday, Feb. 9

MASON MEHRENS
Staff Writer

Students will have an opportunity to show their skills and make the KC football team on Saturday, Feb. 9. Registration for the combine will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 10:30 at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.

The combine should last a couple of hours and will begin immediately following the registration. Head coach J.J. Eckert said KC will be looking for players at all positions.

Participants are required to bring their own cleats, workout clothes and shoes.

This tryout will provide the opportunity for athletes to showcase their abilities to the coaching staff and possibly earn a football scholarship or walk-on position.

“In the past, we’ve offered scholarships to players who have done well,” Eckert said.

A $20 fee is required to compete in the combine.

Rangers nab first bowl bid since ’07

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

The KC Ranger football team will be heading to a bowl game for the first time since 2007. This will be the 19th bowl appearance in KC’s history.

The No. 11-ranked Rangers accepted a bid to the inaugural Brazos Valley Bowl in College Station to play No. 13 Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers. Game time is set for noon Saturday, Dec. 1,  at Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field in College Station.

Kyle Field is known as The Home of the 12th Man and has a seating capacity of 82,589–the 13th largest stadium in the NCAA.

“We drove through there going to Blinn and thought how awesome would it be to play at that place,” said head Coach J.J. Eckert.  “Amazingly it’s all worked itself out.”

Northwest Mississippi finished the season 8-2, making it to the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges conference playoffs. Similar to KC‘s 42-14 loss to Navarro in the semifinals, NMCC fell short 43-17 in their semifinal game.

“I’ve had a chance to look at some video,” Eckert said. “Offensively they are a varied multi-formation team. They have a big athletic quarterback who is 6’5.

That quarterback is sophomore Domonique Harris who threw well over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. The Rangers scored 284 points this season,  averaging 425 total offensive yards.

“We didn’t get here by luck,” said KC cornerback James Jones. “We got here from hard work and dedication.”

The Rangers will need that hard work leading up to the bowl game during practice hours since KC will have been off the playing field for nearly an entire month.

KC is led by linebacker Charles Woods who was named defensive Most Valuable Player of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, tallying 128 recorded tackles on the season. James Jones, First Team Defense, has also been a huge factor on defense, getting 59 tackles, three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown.

“We’ve got to get used to putting that helmet back on,” Eckert said. “I’m sure there’s times when you go to a bowl game at any level that it‘s almost like, ah we’ve got to go to a bowl game, but these guys are excited.”

For many of the KC players it will be their last game wearing the Ranger jersey,  and for others it maybe their last collegiate football game ever.

“The feeling is ecstatic,” Jones said. “Even though we lost the play off game, we overcame adversity to get the opportunity to play in this bowl game.”

The game will be regionally televised on CW-8 from Bryan-College Station and also streamed online at www.iHigh.com.

The KC Rangers will face the NW Rangers for a third time in postseason, with the teams splitting the last two meetings in 1965 and 1989 at the Shrine Bowl.

General admission tickets are $5 while 18-and-under are free and college students are free with I.D.

Big heart, big impact; Blue Steel gives Ranger defense new perspective

Randi Vinson-Davis / THE FLARE || KC defensive players are ready at the line of scrimmage to block opposing offensive players from gaining yardage. The players named their line Blue Steel and created an unbreakable bond with a successful season to follow.

Sheniece Chappell
Page Editor

The 2012 football season for the KC Rangers put the team back on the radar. Shocking, crazy, wild, memorable and destined only begin to touch on the adjectives that have been used to describe it.

The Rangers’ game has evolved into many passes being thrown, a spread offense and a game with multiple receivers. They have also shown that “playing some D” is still relevant.

This defense, also known as “Blue Steel,” is determined to use any means to stop anyone who gets in its way.

Kris Dobbins / THE FLARE || Linebacker Dylan Dippel makes the tackle in rivalry game against the Tyler Junior College Apaches. Dippel added 20 tackles to the success Blue Steel has had this season.

“You may bend us, but guarantee you won’tbreak us,” said James Jones, defensive captain and cornerback.

This defenses has caused 12 interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries, 17 sacks and three defensive scores in the regular season.

From the beginning, the Rangers’ defense wanted to make a statement and let everyone know they are not the team they were last season, and Blue Steel has proved just that.

“I think we are more mature,” said Willie Gooden, co-defensive coordinator. “Last season made them hungrier and it was a big letdown; they’ve been playing with a chip on their shoulder and all credit goes to them.”

These players shed blood, sweat and tears with each appearance on the turf. They gave a 100 percent effort and delivered on every play. When one was feeling down and defeated, there was always a teammate coming to the rescue.

“There has been a time when my teammate was down and I went to him to make sure he knew that play was in the past,” said Ethan Perkins, Nacogdoches sophomore. “You just have to make up for it the next chance you get.”

To many of these men, this team is more than just fellow football players. They are more than just teammates and someone to practice with. These young men are there for one another; they are each other’s support system away from home. They are family.

“My teammates are my brothers,” Perkins said. “We are always together cracking jokes or talking about football.”

Leaving home can be difficult for some. There are many sacrifices made and decisions determined, and each player’s commitment to this team has required full focus.

“Every kid has his story,” Gooden said. “They’ve all made some type of sacrifice or been through some type of struggle. We as coaches take on another role as a role model and help teach these guys some morals and values.”

When things get too intense on the field, some tend to take the fun out, but what they fail to realize is that the fun is just as important as the seriousness.

“I think I lighten up the mood because even though it gets intense on the field, you got to be able to enjoy the game and have some fun,” Perkins said.

Blue Steel may not be considered the best of the best in the rankings, but it is full of players who strive to make their abilities and chemistry worth watching.

“These sophomores had no example but stepped up. It was kind of like a baptism of fire. They were thrown into it,” Gooden said. “Being able to scheme-wise and understand the scheme to play fast to create turnovers; that’s what makes this defense so special.”

The Rangers’ defense awakened and made plays under pressure. Earlier in the season against Navarro, the KC defense forced a fumble on a punt return, recovered it on the 4-yard line and gained a field goal. On Navarro’s next drive, Jones intercepted a pass, which resulted in a 49-yard touchdown.

“Overall, I think we match up with any offense in the conference,” Gooden said. “We understand the burden we carry and our guys are willing to carry it out by any means.”

This season has had both its nerve-racking and memorable moments, but the game against Blinn happens to be a combination of both. For many players, playing on the road heightens their nervousness. Dealing with a crowd of fans cheering for the opposing team and not having home-field advantage can be discomforting. The Rangers went into Brenham with hopes of remaining undefeated. They went onto the field with a positive mentality of doing their best.

Heading into the fourth quarter, it wasn’t looking good for the Rangers. They were down 27-7 and needed to come up with something quick.

“Standing on the sideline I just kept thinking, don’t give up,” Jones said. “We have to go out and play our game, not theirs.”

That is exactly what this defense did.  They once again awakened and made plays when they were most important.

“I felt very confident,” said DeAngelo Brooks, Shreveport sophomore. “We knew we had to do something and make something happen in order to win.”

The Rangers managed to create momentum as linebacker Charles Woods grabbed an interception and ran it back for a touchdown. They went on to win 28-27 in the final seconds.

The brotherhood and will to win puts Blue Steel ahead of many.

“We’re family and we all believe in each other no matter what,” Jones said.

The memories created throughout this season, from the dance battles at practice to the plays on game days, will forever be cherished.

“I wouldn’t change anything about this season,” Jones said. “We wrote our own destiny and the adversity that we faced made us believe in each other even more.”

The relationships these players have with one another and their coaches will continue to live on.

“I love each and every one of them for all of the devoted time they gave us,” Jones said. “Wherever I go, I will take with me the wise words and coaching that was passed along.”

The Rangers are making their first bowl appearance since 2007. KC will face Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers noon Dec. 1 at Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field in College Station.

Although the season is coming to an end, the coaches continue to encourage their players to be the best they can be. They push them to live up to their motto and do what it takes to be 1-0 each week.

“No matter what happens I want them to know that I’m proud of them,” Gooden said.