EL DORADO, Kan. – Like many small towns, there isn't much to do in El Dorado on Saturday nights. Sure the local pubs are always hopping and a lot of people head 30 miles down the road to Wichita.
But this Saturday night, El Dorado is the place to be as one of the biggest college football games of the year will take place. No. 2 Butler County Community College battles No. 13 Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College in a game that could feature as many as 20 Division I prospects.
"It doesn't get any bigger than Coffeyville and Butler County," Grizzly coach Troy Morrell said. "There are some great rivalries in college football, but this one ranks right up there with all the big ones. It's always the biggest rivalry in junior college football.
"If you know of people coming to the game Saturday, you better tell them to get there early because it's going to be packed."
Packed with talent no doubt, so you better get there well in advance to get a seat to see all the stars.
Some might argue the game might have lost a little of its luster after Coffeyville – then ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation by JCGridiron.com – was shocked last week by 25-21 by Garden City. But those people are wrong because it's still the game of the year in the Jayhawk Conference and you can count on major schools from all over the nation fighting hard to get a copy of this game tape.
After sitting out most of last week's game with a separated shoulder, the nation's top junior college running back Kenny Wilson is expected to be back and healthy for Butler County.
The 6-foot, 215-pounder is a bruising back that has sprinter speed. He's averaging more than 13 yards a carry and is one of the best backs that Butler County has ever produced – and don't forget that Butler County just sent Rudi Johnson to Auburn and to the NFL recently.
His running mate, Ryan Torain is also a heavily recruited prospect. The 6-foot, 195-pound Torain is more of a speed back and can turn a short run into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.
With Torain and Wilson, the Grizzlies have a thunder and lightning threat in the backfield, and calling the signals is one of the better juco quarterbacks in the nation – Paul Eck. The 6-foot-4, 207-pound quarterback has the ability to be a high-level Division I recruit when he graduates with three years to play three seasons. He's thrown for 1,353 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Receiver Anthony Parks, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, is originally from Olathe (Kan.) East and has developed into one of the more explosive receivers in the Jayhawk Conference. He is a solid to mid-major Division I prospect and has racked up 572 yards receiving and five touchdown catches.
Up front Sherrone Moore is one of the most dominating offensive tackles available in the junior college ranks this year. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder has amazing feet, according to Morrell, and he is attracting major Division I attention with national power Oklahoma already offering.
On the defensive side of the ball, Butler County is loaded and it's easy to see why teams have only scored 79 points against them so far in seven games.
It's an embarrassment of riches for Morrell and his defensive staff, but he believes that defensive tackle Paul Griffin, inside linebacker Vernon Smith and safety Toddrick Verdell can play for anybody in the nation.
Smith originally signed with Pittsburgh out of high school. Verdell is a playmaking safety that is originally from Hartwell, Ga., that has already racked up 44 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Griffin is from Pensacola, Fla., and is a run stuffer that has good size and a nose for the football.
Morrell also thinks cornerbacks Blake Bueltel and Elbert Mack are high-level Division I players and safety Jonathan Warren has offers from Clemson, Florida State, Iowa State, Louisville and N.C. State.
Not to be outdone, Coffeyville also brings plenty of firepower to the table.
Offensive guard prospect Brandon Walker (6-3, 315) is one of the best offensive linemen in the juco ranks. He and receiver Devin Thomas (6-2, 215) are thought of by recruiters as Coffeyville's best players and both are getting nation-wide attention.
"Devin is the fastest kid on our team," Coffeyville assistant coach Sean Cherico said.
"He's been timed by us at 4.39, so you can say he's a legit 4.4 type kid. He also has the body of a college-ready receiver at 6-2, 205 pounds. This kid is a legit cat and is the best receiver in our league. Wow is all I can say."
Strongside defensive end Walter Fisher was placed at Coffeyville by Tennessee and he's going to be an immediate impact player for the Vols. When Rivals.com scouted him earlier this season he dominated the game against Air Force Prep.
"I'm the defensive line coach so this cat makes me look good," Cherico said. "It's going to be freakish to see what he does when he gets to Tennessee. He's one of the few players we have that can go to an SEC-level program and play without skipping a beat."
Running back Kendrick Smith is one of the most explosive backs in the nation. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder has a slashing rushing style that combines strength and speed.
"Kendrick is a freak," Cherico said. "He's a pre-season All-American that is really strong and can blast through the hole and then outrun you. He's the younger brother of Ike Hillard, so you know great football is in his blood."
Woody Wilson – a dual-threat quarterback that likely will play defensive back on the D-I level – is out for the game and is a big blow for the Red Ravens. His dual-threat ability and leadership skills will be sorely missed.
Coffeyville's freshman class is also loaded with big-time players.
Outside linebacker Fred Wright, who is committed to Kansas State, might be the most dominant freshman in the conference. He's joined by defensive tackle Harold Ayodele and safety Gary Chandler. Chandler signed with Kansas State out of high school and has become one of the top special team standouts in the league because of his speed and tackling ability.