The Great Bend Black Panthers played their best football in the second half of the season. Coaches usually say “our goal is to get better every game.” Coach Tony Crough’s team did that.
As the season progressed, that 19-0 loss to Leavenworth didn’t look nearly as bad, if that can be said of any loss. Leavenworth went on to have a winning season and are in the playoffs. The one game that stands out as a “I wish we could play it over” is that second game of the season against Hays, a 49-6 loss. Other than that, the Black Panthers were competitive in every game.
Four of Great Bend’s opponents are in the playoffs as Leavenworth, Liberal, Salina Central and Salina South all advanced. Hays did not survive a “killer” district in 4A Div. But that in no way detracts from the quality of the Indians as a football team.
Following the big 49-6 loss to Hays, the Black Panthers got better and better. A close loss to Garden City was followed by a win over North, a close loss to Dodge City and two straight wins over Liberal and Newton before the competitive losses to the two Salina playoff-bound schools.
A 3-6 record is probably not good enough to make anyone happy. However, let’s look at the positives here. As we’ve pointed out, this is a team that did get better as the season progressed. The Black Panthers were not competitive in only one game. In defeating Newton Great Bend won their first district game since 2011.
The Western Athletic Conference is not a league that has a lot of “easy wins”. That’s even more true of the district assignment for the Black Panthers. Great Bend will have to continue to improve to move that 3-6 record above the .500 mark. That happens as much in the off-season as it does during the season. Coach Tony Crough and his staff’s work has only just begun.
If the Black Panthers improve as much during the off-season as they did during the short season, then good things are on the horizon for this football program.
CHALK TALK: Aah. The end of the political season. No more scrambling by Kansas State officials to deflect the problems caused by coach Bill Snyder endorsing his friend Pat Roberts. The most notable thing about that is that nobody from Kansas State criticized Bill Snyder and told him to not do it. When you are Bill Snyder and your team is still alive for a national championship playoff, you are bigger than those problems. Criticism is not in the jar!
Speaking of K-State, the bad news is their schedule looks really tough with TCU, Baylor and West Virginia on the road. The good news is, win those games and the home game with Kansas and there is NO WAY the selection committee can keep the Cats out of the four-team playoffs no matter HOW MUCH Southeastern Conference bias there is in the media and around the country!
“If we got one-tenth of what is promised us by politicians, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”-Will Rogers.