It’s time to take a look in the rear view mirror of high school football in Barton County. Some heartbreaks, some exhilaration but, always, excitement.
The season finale for the Great Bend Panthers of coach Erin Beck was a microcosm of the entire season. A disappointing late-game loss to Goddard Eisenhower, 35-28, ended the season at 5-4, 2-2 in the Western Athletic Conference. That loss, combined with the 1-point overtime loss to Hays and the 23-21 loss to Liberal paved the way for what some might consider a disappointing season.
How soon we forget the 20-7 win over Garden City and the thin-as-a-razor 7-6 win over Wichita East. Sometimes you win some you shouldn’t and sometimes you lose some you shouldn’t!
A coaching change has not slowed Great Bend’s resurgence in football. A 10-2 trip to the 5A semifinals last year was followed by this 5-4 season. Two straight winning seasons with the groundwork has laid for more to come. Coach Beck and his staff did a terrific job with this football season and the expectations are for more of the same.
In Hoisington it is EXPECTED that your football team wins.
Coach Zach Baird’s three-year tenure now stands at 27-7. The style of coach Baird’s offense fits the Hoisington community — smash mouth football!
Baird’s “run first and let’s see if you can stop us” mentality produced another winner this year with a 7-4 record and another foray into playoff action. Unfortunately, the Cardinals met Phillipsburg in the second-round playoff game, a team that is one of the favorites to win it all in 3A.
Close losses to Larned and Pratt negated what would have been another stellar record BUT, the Cardinals showed that they belonged at the top of the pile!
The beat goes on in Hoisington!
Ellinwood is the only Barton County team to have a losing record but their 2-7 record is a little deceiving. Four of those losses were to powerhouse programs at Otis-Bison, Victoria, Central Plains and Little River. The Eagles of coach Alex Birney made progress this year, their last in 8-man football. The final game, a win over Canton-Galva, 52-26 shows promise for better things to come in Ellinwood football.
Still not finished with this 2017 football season are the Oilers of Central Plains.
Now 9-1, following a first-round playoff dismantling of Macksville, Central Plains is just doing what they usually do; WINNING! Coach Chris Steiner is 53-12 in six years at Central Plains and, heading into Friday’s key contest against Spearville, shows little interest in slowing down.
The concentration of football talent along Highway 4, combining Hoisington and Central Plains is amazing. Win or lose Friday night, the Oilers have kept pounding the drum!
We would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to Otis-Bison. No, they are not in Barton County but the Rush County neighbors aren’t far away and they are adding a significant contribution to the football reputation in this Golden Belt area.
Coach Travis Starr has again rebuilt the fortunes of Otis-Bison football. The Cougars, 6-3 last year, are in the hunt for a state title. They are 9-1 this year with their only loss coming against Central Plains. Friday they host Ingalls in second-round playoff action.
Folks, if you can’t find a good football game to go to on a nice fall Kansas evening, you just aren’t trying very hard!
Buddy Tabler 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 email@example.com.