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At the Mike
Football still front and center in Barton County
Mike - At the Mike nw

 Four home playoff games. It just simply doesn’t get much better than that. 

The Great Bend Panthers football team will be playing its fourth straight post-season game at home Friday night. It will be the biggest of them all. The right to play in the Class 5A State Championship game to the winner of the Great Bend-Goddard showdown.

The semifinal is the first on the west side of 5A since 2005 that doesn’t include Bishop Carroll, Salina South or Hutchinson. It is Great Bend’s first semifinals since 06 and Goddard’s since 07.

Goddard is good. But what else do you expect with only four teams left. The Lions only loss was to Derby back in week two, 35-6. That is a Derby team that has won all but two of its games by at least 30 points. Goddard decimated Andover (50-14) and Valley Center (49-7).

The same two teams Great Bend beat 16-7 and 28-24 the last two rounds of the playoffs. Comparing scores can be Fool’s Gold but the Panthers will have to play one of it their best game of the season to play for a state title.

Festivities will get started at 5 pm with the Panther Booster Club tailgate party in the northwest corner of Memorial Stadium. Come out early, eat some Papa Murphy Pizza for $5 and cheer on the Panthers.

Prep thoughts

Only four Kansas counties can boast at least a pair of prep football teams still vying for a state title. The state’s three largest counties and our very own Barton.

Hoisington will be playing sub-state football for the first time in school history. Standing in the Cardinals way of a trip to the state title game is Central Kansas League foe Hesston. The Swathers are traditionally the big bully in the league. 

The Swathers lost three of four to start the year and have since won eight straight. In the 38-26 win over Phillipsburg last round big plays were the difference. Hesston returned an 85-yard kickoff and 35-yard fumble for a touchdown as well as scoring on a 76-yard pass.

Although the two teams are in the same league, they haven’t met on the football field since Hoisington joined the CKL back in 2014. In fact they haven’t met on the football field in 10 years.

Hoisington will again be without Hunter Hanzlick. That is important to note but the Cardinals have won their last two games without the senior standout. With ease. So they have a stepped up where needed so far.

Former Barton athlete/coach update

Steve Forbes begins his second season as the men’s basketball coach at East Tennessee State. In his first season, the Buccaneers went 24-12, finishing second in the Southern Conference. The Bucs went 1-1 in the Vegas 16 post-season tournament. 

This year ETSU is again slated to finish second behind defending champion UT-Chattanooga. So far, the former Barton coach has his team off to a 2-0 start with easy wins over Fordham and Detroit Mercy. 

Some big non-conference games loom on the schedule highlighted by a home game Dec. 22 against Tennessee. Forbes spent five seasons as an assistant at Tennessee. The Tennessee game wraps up a 4-game, 12-day stretch that includes games at Dayton and Mississippi State. 

Good Luck Coach Forbes.

And finally

A big vote took place recently. It had a disappointing outcome. Yes, the Nerf ball was left out of the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Instead Dungeons & Dragons, Fisher-Price Little People and the swing made the cut this year. Finalist which didn’t make the vote were such stalwarts as Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Care Bears, the coloring book, bubble wrap, Clue, Uno and of course my personal favorite the Nerf Ball.

The Toy Hall started in 1998 with a large class of 11 and added 11 total the next two years. Since it has added two or three each year. 

Some of the Mt. Rushmore of toys are in. Monopoly, Etch A Sketch, Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, the bicycle and Hula Hoop. Tonka Trucks, checkers, Easy-Bake Oven, Raggedy Ann (and Andy) the Atari 2600.

Shoot, even the cardboard box and the stick are enshrined. In total there are now 63 toys in the Hall.

Somewhere in that 63 needs to be the Nerf ball. As a child I spent hundreds, probably thousands of hours, playing me some Nerf basketball. My parents and family will attest to this.

I had a goal set up on the door in the entry way to the house. It was right next to the living room. I not only played, I announced the game as I played. Image the patience of my parents as they tried to watch television with my play-by-play, full-on Nerf basketball games going on in the next room.

I kept time with an egg-timer. Score was kept in my head. I had full teams and played a full schedule.

You could say I had quite the imagination. And the quite the parents to put up with it.

Like us Chicago Cubs’ fans said for 107 years … maybe next year.

Mike Marzolf is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at