The Blinn Buccaneers spent five weeks at the top of the NJCAA polls last season.
Now, in their second season under head coach Ronny Feldman, they're looking to build upon that success, beginning with Saturday's top-five match-up against Butler (Kan.) Community College. The game, set for 7 p.m. Saturday in El Dorado, Kan., will pit the fifth-ranked Buccaneers against the second-ranked Grizzlies.
The game will be broadcast in Brenham on KWHI 1280-AM, and fans can also listen to the game live on the station's website at www.kwhi.com beginning with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m.
Fresh off a 9-2 season, the Buccaneers are looking to build upon two decades of unparalleled success. Since 1994, the Buccaneers have posted a 145-47 record, winning four national championships, 14 conference championships and making 12 bowl appearances, including last year's showing in the Mississippi Bowl hosted by Biloxi, Miss.
"We've got a heck of a tradition here and the players know they're a part of something special," Feldman said. "There's a lot of history here and we've got to finish what we've started and play well to the last snap."
The Buccaneers return three all-conference selections from last season. Sophomore place kicker Kurt Walker (Hebron) was a first-team all-conference selection after he finished second in the nation with 67 kicks made in 68 attempts in 2011. He was 8-of-9 in field goals, including an NJCAA-best 56-yarder in Week 4.
Sophomore defensive back Tevin Broussard (Beaumont Central) earned second-team honors after posting 46 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery, and sophomore linebacker Brandon Thornton (Conroe) was also named to the second team after recording 76 tackles – including nine for a loss – and two sacks.
Feldman said the return of Walker will make the kicking game a strength this season, especially with kickoffs being moved up five yards to the 35-yard line.
Defensively, the Buccaneers return a strong linebacking corps and a strong foursome in the secondary. With two defensive ends returning to claim both starting jobs, the Buccaneers' biggest change will come at defensive tackle, where the squad will rely on freshmen to man the middle of the defensive line.
The defense will be under the guidance of new coordinator Mike Mutz, who spent the past six seasons at Missouri Southern State University.
"There may be a different personality to the defense," Mutz said. "We're still going to line up in a four-man front, but we're going to bring a little bit more pressure."
Offensively, the Buccaneers will rely on their running game early in the season as the squad looks to replace its top four receivers and its starting quarterback from last season, all of whom went on to Division I programs.
Without them, the offense will rely on the strength of its offensive line. It's a unit that figures to improve as the season goes on. With close to 60 freshmen on the roster, the Buccaneers will only get stronger as their young players gain experience.
"If we can hang early in the season, these freshmen are talented and they've got a chance to be really good players," Feldman said. "It's just going to take them a little while to get into the vogue of things because it's just a whole different ballgame than it was in high school. Some of these young guys are going to have to help, especially at receiver and defensive tackle. They're talented, but it takes time."
For more information on Blinn football, including a video interview with Feldman previewing the Bucs' 2012 season, please visit www.buccaneersports.com.