Drew Dallas named NJCAA Coach of the Year
Hutchinson, Kan. (Hutchinson CC Sports Information) - What a first act for first-year Hutchinson Community College head football coach Drew Dallas.
Waiting more than a year to coach his first game at Hutchinson after being hired, all Dallas did was lead the 2020-21 Blue Dragons through unpredictable, uncharted waters to the program’s first national championship in 89 years.
Dallas, on Thursday was named NJCAA Football’s National Coach of the Year.
Dallas led Hutchinson to the program’s eighth Jayhawk Conference championship, third undefeated season (1947, 1969 and 2020-21) and into an opportunity to play in the NJCAA Championship game.
Ranked No. 1 all season long, the Blue Dragons rallied from 14-0 and 21-10 down to defeat No. 2 Snow College on June 5 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas, to win the Blue Dragons’ first national football championship and eighth national team title overall.
In Dallas’ first season, the 2020-21 Blue Dragons:
+ Were picked No. 1 in the NJCAA preseason rankings and went wire-to-wire.
+ Dallas was also selected as the KJCCC Coach of the Year and sophomore defensive back Roterius Torrence was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
+ Torrence was named the NJCAA National Defensive Player of the Year.
+ Had a record 30 all-Jayhawk Conference selections, including 16 first-team performers.
+ Had a record 10 NJCAA All-Americans, including six first-team selections.
+ Had a 32.3 point-per-game winning margin this season.
Hutchinson ranked second in the nation this season in points per game, total yards of offense, total rushing yards, and rushing yards per game.
Hired on December 31, 2019, Dallas was about to embark on the strangest season by a first-year coach … ever. Just after getting his staff hired in February, the Coronavirus pandemic was about to bring the world to a screeching halt. In doing so, Dallas’ first spring practice season with his new team was wiped out and the 2020 season he thought he was preparing for was ultimately pushed from its usual fall season into late spring 2021.
While trying to prep his team for the upcoming season – whenever it may have started – Dallas had to navigate his staff and players through the daily Covid-19 grind, which often times changed hourly and had nothing to do with football.
“It was a 100-percent day-by-day focus,” Dallas said. “It was hard to have any plan of substance that went over the course of a week. Countless calendars were made and thrown away in a matter of 15 minutes. It was just a matter of going day-by-day and not looking too far ahead of what you wanted to accomplish.”
Finally, March 26, 2021 rolled around – Dallas’ head coaching debut some 471 days from the day he was hired. And even on that night, Dallas had to wait a little longer for his first coaching win as a 60-minute weather delay temporarily halted what turned into a 33-7 win over Coffeyville.
The No. 1-ranked Blue Dragons defeated Butler 41-10 in El Dorado one week later and eventually took a 3-0 record into a national Top 5 battle at Gowans Stadium against No. 3 Garden City on April 25. The Blue Dragons held the Broncbusters to 45 points under their season scoring average and 230 yards under their season rushing average as Hutchinson defeated Garden City 23-7.
One week later at No. 7 Independence, the top-ranked Blue Dragons rolled up a season-high 512 total yards and survived an injury to starting quarterback C.J. Ogbonna as backup Dylan Laible threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-24 victory over the Pirates.
The Blue Dragons completed the regular season 7-0 to win the first KJCCC championship since 2014 and eighth league title overall.
Against Snow College on June 5, the Blue Dragons trailed 14-0 and 21-10 before scoring touchdowns on three-straight second-half possessions – Anwar Lewis had touchdown runs of 29 and 3 yards to take the lead and game MVP Tye Edwards – who rushed for 139 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns – scored a huge insurance TD from 1 yard out with 7:27 to play.
Leading 29-27, Blue Dragon linebacker Tre Pinkney – the nation’s leader in quarterback sacks – intercepted a pass with 1:04 remaining to seal the victory for the Blue Dragons.
The Blue Dragons out-gained Snow College 511-390. The Dragons had 278 passing yards and 233 rushing yards – the Badgers were the nation’s rush defense leader allowing only 37.8 yards per game.