May 27, 2024

Game Preview: Broncbusters Football Looks to Start Season of Redemption Against Butler

One thing has been on fifth-year head coach Tom Minnick’s mind all offseason; redemption.

The 2022 Garden City football season came as a huge surprise to everyone familiar with the program, finishing under .500 for the first time under Minnick’s tenure. At the KJCCC/ICCAC Media Day last month, with every head coach in attendance, Minnick guaranteed there would be no repeat of last season.

The Broncbusters open their 2023 schedule against the Butler Grizzlies for the second consecutive season. Garden City suffered a disappointing loss to Butler in El Dorado last season, and Minnick knows that the returners are anxious to flip the script in 2023.

“They have something to prove from last year,” Minnick said. “It was a last three minutes win for Butler, and I think the guys that stayed here took it hard and want to redeem themselves after that loss.”

Ja’Corey Hammett is one of the returners that vividly remembered last year’s game against Butler. In his freshman debut, the linebacker was ejected early into the game due to a targeting penalty. 

This year, Hammett is ready to turn this program around, using the frustration he remembered from last season’s 4-6 finish. He’s confident in his own abilities, but even more confident in his new teammates.

“Personnel-wise, the guys we have all around, I feel like the talent is better this year,” Hammett said
“The chemistry is better than last year. It’s a lot, I have a good feeling about this year.”

The Broncbusters hit the transfer portal hard, bringing in the No. 1 transfer class in the NJCAA according to athlinkd.net. The class includes Texas A&M transfer Demond Demas, whose anticipation to return to the game has been shining all throughout training camp.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotion on that field, for everything I do,” Demas said last week. “I’ve been out of football for a minute. It’s like a relief, I get to be in my happy place.”

Demas, a former five-star recruit from Houston, Texas, sprung to the top of the wide receiver charts with several stunning catches in training camp. He’s not the only receiver to arrive from the Power Five conferences, with Isaiah Brevard (Oregon), Aidan Lee (California-Berkley), and Terence Fall (BYU) all joining the Broncbusters this offseason.

Games in the KJCCC can always come down to the wire, like last year’s Garden City game at Butler. The Broncbusters and Grizzlies went back and forth throughout the contest, with Butler nudging a 35-28 win with a fourth quarter touchdown by departing running back Azhuan Dingle. 

Head coach Brice Vignery enters his second season at the helm for the Grizzlies. Vignery went 23-1 in his playing career for the Grizzlies, fresh off leading Butler to their 17th bowl win last season. 

Vignery knows how close these games can be over the years, and has nothing but respect for Garden City as a program.

“[These games] are tough-minded, they’re physically tough,” Vignery said last week. “These games have always been down to the wire, one possession. [Garden City] has a great tradition of football out there.”

The Broncbusters and Grizzlies are paired right next to each other in the KJCCC’s preseason predicted order of finish, with Butler at third place and Garden City at four. It’s these games in August that could make the difference in the final standings in November.

The 2023 season opens up at 8:00 P.M. from Broncbuster Stadium. Coverage on KWKR 99.9 begins at 7:30 P.M. with the American Implement Pregame Show.