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TITANIC TASK

Great Bend travels to Wichita to take on top-ranked Heights

POSTED September 22, 2011 11:23 p.m.
Dale Hogg Great Bend Tribune/

Great Bend quarterback Mitch Kottas (at left) t...

The Great Bend High School Panthers have had a propensity for living on the edge in each of their first two football games this season.
In their season opener, the Panthers had a Hail Mary pass from quarterback Mitch Kottas to wide receiver Mauricio Uribe come up shy of the end zone at the 3-yard line on the game’s final play, a 21-14 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park on Sept. 2.
After a bye week, they came back in Week 3 last Friday and rallied for a 14-7 victory over Garden City on Kottas’ 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jace Bowman with 1:08 left in the game.
Tonight in Wichita, the Panthers (1-1) have a much tougher task in encountering Class 6A and consensus top-ranked Wichita Heights (3-0). Kickoff is set for 7 at Heights Stadium.
“Obviously, this game brings on a bigger task and bigger challenge, when you’re playing the No. 1 team in the state,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said. “We’re getting better and really, for us, it’s still early. It will be our third game and we’re still trying to make improvements and putting yourself into position to win conference championships and district championships.
“If your goal is winning championships, this is a great game for us … a great game to see where we’re at and match ourselves up against the very best. It’s a great opportunity to get better and find out really where we’re at during this point of our season.”

• IBARRA STEPS UP
Panthers defensive back/wide receiver Brock Ibarra stepped with an all-around game against Garden City.
Ibarra caught four passes for 30 yards as an inside receiver. On defense, he recovered a muffed punt in which Great Bend drove for its first touchdown. Ibarra also made an interception on Garden City Jake Curran in the back of the end zone to negate an early Buffaloes touchdown drive.
“He’s a great example of a kid that has stepped in and has done great job,” Black said of Ibarra, a junior. “He’s someone that we’ve asked to come over in our spread sets and play some inside wide receiver and he doesn’t get to practice it a lot.
“He’s an athlete that can make some plays, and he’s a hard-working dedicated kid. It’s been a lot of fun watching him grow on both sides of the ball.”

• RUNNING GAME
While Great Bend struggled in totaling just 49 yards on the ground last Friday against Garden City, the running game is Heights’ bread-and-butter.
“Any time you played Wichita Heights, they’re going to put pressure on your corners and safeties on the perimeter with their speed,” Black said. “They have a lot of speed.”
The Falcons enter the game with a 416.0 yards-per-game rushing average.
“We’re going to have to stop the run,” Great Bend senior two-way lineman Tyler Uselton said. “They’re kind of a one-dimensional team.
“When they do turn it over, the limited times that they do turn it over, we need to take advantage of it.”

• PASSING GAME
While Heights rarely throws the football, Great Bend had 154 of its 203 net yards against Garden came via the airwaves. Kottas has completed 32 of 56 passes for a 57.1 percent completion rate, which is tops among all Western Athletic Conference teams. He has totaled 339 passing yards, thrown two interceptions and three TD passes in Great Bend’s two games.


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