2012 Bowl Preview: Salt City, El Toro, Valley of the SunNovember 30, 2012
SALT CITY BOWL
#14 Hutchinson (8-3) vs. Iowa Central (6-4) – Saturday, 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Gowans Stadium – Hutchinson, Kan. – WATCH REPLAY LISTEN LIVE
The No. 14 Hutchinson Blue Dragons will defend their home field against Iowa Central Saturday in the Salt City Bowl. In its fourth season, the Salt City Bowl will once again feature the Blue Dragons who have claimed victory in all three games. The Tritons of Iowa Central are making their 14th bowl appearance in the last 16 seasons and will look to extend the nation’s longest bowl win streak to seven.
With the exception of their two losses to No. 2 Butler, Hutchinson has produced one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. The Blue Dragons rank fifth in both total offense and scoring, averaging 508.9 yards 45.6 points per game. Freshman quarterback Luke Barnes has made a name for himself, ranking second in the country in passing yards with 291.8 per game and passing touchdowns with 36. Hutchinson also claims one of the NJCAA’s top running backs in sophomore Terrell Lane. The first team All-KJCCC selection ranks second in rushing, racking up 1,533 yards on the ground in 2012. Defensively, the Blue Dragons are led by freshman linebacker Kenny Flowers and his 95 tackles this season.
A rollercoaster season for Iowa Central leaves the Tritons with something to prove Saturday. The Tritons have lost three of their last four games and three of their six victories came against non-member schools. A lackluster passing game has put a heavy load on sophomore running back Jontel Clayton (right). Rushing for 954 yards, Clayton has found the end zone 10 times this season. Sophomore defensive lineman Keontae Hollis anchors the Triton defense that has held its opponents to 277.3 yards per game.
EL TORO BOWL
#6 Nassau (9-1) vs. #12 Arizona Western (7-2) – Saturday, 1:00 p.m. (MT)
Veterans Memorial Stadium – Yuma, Ariz. – WATCH LIVE LISTEN LIVE
It will be a classic east versus west matchup in Saturday’s El Toro Bowl when No. 12 Arizona Western welcomes No. 6 Nassau to the desert. The schools will meet for the second time in a bowl game after Nassau cruised to 30-6 win over the Matadors in the 1998 Empire State Bowl.
Despite having their national title hopes dashed in the final week of the season, Nassau is eager to show how they measure up with one of the nation’s top teams over the past several years. Ranking third in the nation in rushing, Nassau’s offense is predicated on a powerful tandem at running back. Sophomore Louis Johnson and freshman Travis Lock have combined for 23 rushing touchdowns and are both approaching the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Linebacker Amara Kamara has been a playmaker on defense for the Lions, forcing four fumbles, recovering two and intercepting two passes during his sophomore campaign.
Maintaining their national title aspirations through their first six games of 2012, Arizona Western quickly fell out of contention with a disappointing finish. Freshman quarterback Tanner McEvoy became a first team All-WSFL selection this season after throwing for 1,943 yards and 25 touchdowns. McEvoy was joined on the first team by sophomore running back DeSean Martin (right) and sophomore wide receiver Markeith Ambles. Sophomore Sam Wren has been a quarterback’s nightmare at defensive end, ranking second in sacks with 13.5 on the year.
VALLEY OF THE SUN BOWL
#19 Glendale (7-3) vs. Mesa (6-4) – Saturday, 1:00 p.m. (MT)
Matt O. Hanhila Field – Glendale, Ariz.
Saturday’s Valley of the Sun Bowl will feature two Maricopa County rivals in Mesa and No. 19 Glendale. The two WSFL foes met in the final game of the regular season with Mesa pulling out the 34-28 upset. Glendale is hosting the bowl for the 19th time and for the fourth consecutive year. The Mesa Thunderbirds are making their first bowl appearance since 2007 and their sixth overall in the Valley of the Sun Bowl.
Glendale’s offense is commanded by two quarterbacks in sophomore Dain McFarland and freshman Jon Brown. McFarland’s pocket presence has led him to throwing for 1,418 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Brown’s dual-threat capabilities have given him 493 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Despite giving up more yards per game than any other team in the nation, the Gauchos’ defense has kept them competitive in every game this year. Glendale’s defense ranks fourth in the nation with 46 sacks this season, driven by freshman safety Ramon Abreu’s nation-leading 17 sacks.
Operating a two-quarterback system of their own, Mesa has relied on both sophomore quarterback Jaymason Lee and freshman quarterback Blake Kemp. Lee has passed for 1,064 yards and six touchdowns, while Kemp has aired it out for 1,429 yards and 14 touchdowns. No matter who has been throwing the ball, sophomore wide receiver Tristan McClelland has been there to catch it. McClelland has 64 receptions for 713 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012. On defense, freshman defensive back Damarious Randall has intercepted the most passes in the nation with eight picks on the year.