By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-This much can be said: the next seven days will be a television drama.
Following their win over fourth-ranked Hutchinson, Garden City jumped two spots to No. 3 in the second-to-last regular-season poll released by the NJCAA on Monday. They crawled within six points of unbeaten Lackawanna.
"All you can ask for is a chance," Head Coach Tom Minnick said. "We've given ourselves a chance."
This poll is very telling for a couple of reasons: first and foremost, the computers and the human vote have the Broncbuters, a two-loss team, within striking distance of No. 2 Lackawanna. Secondly, Mississippi Gulf Coast, who's been No. 1 now for the past five weeks, is not the runaway favorite by any means, leading two-loss Garden City by 50 points.
Some other surprises that highlight this poll, include Northwest Mississippi, who leaped six spots from 10 to four, overtaking Hutchinson. Iowa Western also made a major move, sliding up six spots from 11 to five. Interestingly enough, the Blue Dragons fell behind the Reivers, a team they have a better record than and one they beat earlier in the season. Go figure, right?
"Things still have to fall our way," Minnick explained. "But we feel we are deserving of a shot."
Garden City has now been ranked in 27 straight polls and 43 out of the last 47. But this week may be the craziest in the recent history of Junior College football.
For one, the Broncbusters have another ranked opponent on their schedule as they travel to No. 11 Butler on Saturday. If they win there, they will turn their eyes to Sunday's showdown between No. 2 Lackawanna and No. 9 Georgia Military. Any slipup by the Falcons and Garden City could become the first two-loss team to ever play for the National Championship. And it's well deserving. The Broncbusters have endured a tougher schedule with their best win (vs. No. 4 Hutchinson) being better than Lackawanna's (vs. No. 14 Snow). If the Broncbusters win Saturday, they will have scored wins over six ranked opponents to Lackawana's three (this is if Lackawanna loses to Georgia Military). And take into account the ranked opponents the Falcons have beaten (No. 15 ASA Brooklyn and No. 17 Monroe), and the fact that they've played a JV team, a prep school, and four non-scholarship programs, and you can see why their strength of schedule is nowhere close to Garden City's. Yes, they're unbeaten, but you have put all of their wins into context. Besides Snow and ASA Brooklyn, they don't' have any other legitimate wins (that includes Monroe who dropped 10 spots after one loss. Telling, right?)
So let the week officially begin, and let's see who's still standing come Monday. But know this, the next seven days will be an adventure.