KC Coach

Kilgore College coach Willie Gooden (above) talks with his team during a time-out. The Rangers will open the season at home Aug. 22 against Tyler, a non-conference game, and have three of their first four games at home.

Let’s face it: any sports news is welcome news at this point, and Kilgore College officially setting its 2020 schedule – assuming the coronavirus nightmare has settled down and everything is back to normal – is something that everyone would consider something to look forward to.

Coach Willie Gooden and athletic director Jimmy Rieves, himself a former longtime KC football coach, put the 2020 season in permanent ink this week, and there were a few changes.

Gone from the schedule was a home game with a California school, Community Christian College from California – yes, CCC. Even more ironic is that, after the school pulled off the Kilgore College schedule, their replacement is none other than Community Christian College from Louisiana. So, the CCC was replaced by another school named CCC.

That also changes the Rangers’ open date. Instead of Oct. 3, it will now be Oct. 10. It’s kind of a late open date, because KC only normally plays nine regular season games, and that means the Rangers will only have two regular games after that. The Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs always begin the first weekend of November, and knock on wood, KC will be in the mix: the top four teams in the conference after the regular season play that mini-playoff.

KC went 8-2 last year, in Gooden’s first season as head coach, and had the best record in the SWCJFC after the regular season for the second straight year. They were upset by New Mexico Military Institute here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium in the first round of the playoffs. That was the Rangers’ first-ever loss to NMMI.

So, let’s look at that 2020 schedule, because there’s a quirk right out of the gate.

KC almost always faces archrival Tyler Junior College twice a season: once at the beginning, and once at the end, or near the end, right before the playoffs. That’s the case again this year. But for the second straight year, KC will get the first meeting between the programs, the season opener for both on Aug. 22 – the non-conference meeting.

Tyler will host the rematch, which counts in the conference standings, in the regular season finale on Oct. 24.

The Rangers have owned Tyler in the last five meetings, have won seven of the last eight, but still trail the all-time series between the two programs. Tyler leads there, 63-60-2 (thanks to Longview News-Journal sports editor Jack Stallard for that bit of trivia). That means, of course, that KC won both last year: a 35-10 rout in the opener, and a 34-28 double-overtime win in Tyler to close the regular year.

After opening against Tyler at home on Aug. 22, KC will be at home again the next week to host Blinn (Aug. 29) in the conference opener. The Rangers actually have three of their first four games at home.

They do visit Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (NEO) on Sept. 5, in Miami, Okla., and then every Ranger who was on the team last year will circle the next date: Sept. 12, here at R.E. St. John, a rematch with New Mexico Military.

Most every time KC and Navarro meet, football or anything else, it’s a tight battle, and that will happen in football this season on Sept. 19, in Corsicana.

Cisco, the only other program, oddly enough, to have success against the Rangers in the last few years, comes to town on Sept. 26, and that’s now the Hall of Fame Game. KC will induct its 2020 class that day, with a luncheon at the Devall Student Center earlier in the day, and then introductions either at halftime of the game, or prior to the contest.

Hall of fame inductees were announced back in February, and are Gary Robinson and the 1981 Rangers football team, from football; former men’s basketball standout Ron Bayless; former KC Lady Ranger Alexandra “Alex” Bowman; Dr. Jack Robinson in the contributor category; and Gene Powell and Steve McCarty, as this year’s Spirit of Excellence award-winners.

There is also a golf tournament fundraiser on that Friday, Sept. 25, at Tempest Golf Club, off Highway 135.

The next week is KC’s new opponent, Community Christian College of Louisiana on Oct. 3, and that’s homecoming for the Rangers.

As mentioned, the open date is now Oct. 10, and then KC finishes the season with back-to-back road conference games: at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens on Oct. 17, and against Tyler at Rose Stadium on Oct. 24.

The Rangers seek to win the conference’s regular season championship for the third straight season. They went 10-2 two years ago, 8-2 last year as mentioned, and finished ranked in the NJCAA’s national top 10 both times; last year, KC finished seventh.

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