BRENHAM, Texas — Finishing a three-game road trip to conclude the regular season, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen travel south across the Red River for a 3 p.m. Southwest Junior College Football Conference Clash on Oc. 28 with the Blinn College Buccaneers at Cub Stadium.
Ryan Mahon enters his first full season as head coach of the Buccaneers after serving last year in an interim capacity. Under his leadership, Blinn finished sixth in the conference with a 3-4 record and 5-4 overall.
Mahon came to Blinn after one year as offensive coordinator at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College.
Before that, Mahon spent 10 seasons at Tyler Junior College, the last eight as offensive coordinator and associate head coach.
A native or La Grande, Oregon, Mahon built a fast paced, run/pass balanced offense at Tyler.
During the 2014 season, Mahon's offense at Tyler was ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring offense (57.7 points per game), No. 4 in total offense (544.4 yards per game), No. 4 in rushing offense (281.5 yards per game) and No. 14 in passing offense (262.8 yards per game).
During his tenure at Tyler, Mahon coached eight NJCAA All-Americans, two SWJCFC offensive MVPs, one conference MVP and 34 all-conference offensive selections.
Mahon guided Tyler offenses that appeared in the SWJCFC championship in 2011 and 2014 and won the 2013 Citizen’s Bank Bowl in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Mahon was hired at Tyler before the 2005 season as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator and associate head coach in 2007.
One of the newest rivalries in the Texas-Oklahoma series, the Buccaneers hold a 14-9 advantage since the two programs first played in 1995.
NEO’s last win over Blinn previous to last season was a 42-31 decision in Brenham in 2012 under current Golden Norse athletic director Dale Patterson.
Squaring off last year in the regular season finale at Miami’s Red Robertson Field, the two adversaries battled to a 13-13 halftime draw.
Outscoring the Bucs by a 28-14 margin in the final two quarters, the Norsemen earned a 41-27 victory.
The NEO quarterback duo of Nick Johns and Cordale Grundy combined for 358 total yards passing on 24 of 46 along with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tailback Darwin Thompson contributed 153 yards on 20 carries and one TD as the Golden Norse offense amassed 641 yards on 95 offensive plays.
Blinn finished last season averaging 462.8 total yards per game and 38.1 points to rank fifth overall in the conference.
During the spring and summer sessions Mahon and his staff had a core of 62 returning players that included 15 redshirts.
Even though graduation resulted in the loss of two experienced quarterbacks, the Bucs await the return of veteran Westin Elliott (6-5, 200 from Midland, Texas).
Elliott appeared in five games as a freshman and completed 55 of 96 passes for 662 yards and four TDs with five interceptions.
With the departure of tailback D’Anthony Hopkins, the Blinn ground game lost 60 percent of its production from last year.
Redshirt freshmen Kentory Matthews and Kayan Johnson shared the reps during workouts in the offseason.
Matthews (5-8, 170 from Virginia Beach, Virginia) gained 630 yards on 122 carries and scored five touchdowns in nine games. He also caught seven passes for 24 yards.
Johnson (5-10, 180 from Belton, Texas) contributed 33 yards on two carries with one TD in seven games.
Three experienced players return at wide receiver positions for the Buccaneers led by Brandon Hower, Corey Henderson and Dandre Reed.
Hower (6-0, 185 from League City, Texas) had 28 receptions for 390 yards and two TDs in nine games.
Henderson (6-1, 175 from Shreveport, Louisiana) made 20 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns in eight games.
Reed (5-9, 175 from San Antonio, Texas) also appeared in eight games with nine receptions for 178 yards and three touchdowns.
Blinn’s defensive unit limited the opposition to an average of 409 yards per game and 32.3 points.
Outside linebacker Jake Monroe returns to lead the Blinn defensive unit. Monroe (6-2, 235 from Cold Spring, Texas) led the Bucs with 12 unassisted tackles and 67 assists.
He recorded eight quarterback sacks for minus-40 yards, eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus-35 yards and three deflected passes.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Mike Freeze (6-3, 220 from Graham, Texas) returns after making 16 solo tackles and 35 assists. He also posted four tackles for a loss for minus-24 yards.
Returning to the backend of the Blinn defense are redshirt freshmen cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Jermel Adams.
Sheffield (6-0, 188 from Missouri City, Texas) led the Bucs with 11 deflected passes while making 17 unassisted tackles and 14 assists. He also made two pass interceptions.
Adams (6-0, 185 from Baytown, Texas) contributed 16 solo tackles and 14 assists while recording two pass interceptions and four pass deflections.