FORT SCOTT, Kan. - Iowa Central's first test of the 2014 football season will come here this afternoon against Fort Scott.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. inside Frary Field.
Last fall, the Tritons (0-0 overall) finished 6-5 overall, highlighted by a Graphic Edge Bowl victory over then-No. 7 Rochester Tech. This time around, Iowa Central will face eight new opponents from the Jayhawk Conference, including the Greyhounds (0-0).
"Their conference (Jayhawk Conference) is a great challange for us,'' said Iowa Central head coach Kevin Twait. "This league traditionally produces a lot of D-I players.
"It will be a challenge to see how we play week in and week out.''
Quarterback Kendall Jackson returns to the Triton lineup after completing 56 of 127 passes for 700 yards with 14 touchdowns and five picks as a freshman. Jackson added 467 rushing yards and five scores on 165 carries.
DeShawn Johnson and Zach Minch will also be focal points in Iowa Central's punishing ground attack. That duo combined for 794 yards a year ago. Receiving-wise, Trentan Bledsoe (19 catches, 332 yards, 5 TDs in 2013) is expected to be Jackson's favorite target. Both Johnson and Bledsoe were named to the all-MFC second team last season.
As a unit, the Tritons ranked 23rd nationally a year ago in rushing yards per game (182.5). On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa Central was 34th in the country, allowing 26.4 points per game. The Tritons compiled 25 sacks, 13 fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions.
Devontre'a Tyler and Jareid Combs will once again spearhead Iowa Central's defensive unit. Tyler registered a team-high 105 tackles as a freshman, ranking sixth-best nationally. Combs led ICCC with nine sacks and eight tackles for loss, while notching 49 stops and four pass break-ups. For his efforts, Combs earned honorable mention all-MFC honors.
Former St. Edmond all-stater Vinnie Harvey is penciled in as a starting defensive end today for the Tritons.
Fort Scott led the Jayhawk conference in offense a season ago.
"They have three starters back on the offensive line and they led the conference in offense,'' Twait said. "They rushed for about 200 and threw for about 200.
"We have some kids that are ready to play."
Head coach Kevin Twait has directed Iowa Central to 15 bowl appearances through 18 years at the helm. Twait owns a mark of 132-58 with the Tritons. Over the past 17 seasons, Iowa Central is 83-39 in conference play. In the recent NJCAA poll, the Tritons were one of five schools to receive votes.
"We have our tails twisted tight and we're ready to go,'' Twait said. "We came in here Aug. 4, had 30 practices and one scrimmage.
"We're ready to hit someone in a different colored jersey.''
Curtis Horton's Fort Scott squad, which went just 2-7 overall last season, won the 1970 NJCAA National Championship. The Greyhounds also settled for national runner-up honors in 1971, 1972 and 2009.
JoNathan Alford (265 attempts, 1,266 yards, 12 TDs a year ago) and Kyle Hammond (84-468-5) are the catalysts for Fort Scott, which was picked to finish seventh in the preseason KJCCC Coaches' Poll.