It’s time to stop talking and start playing. Put the ol’ pigskin on the kicking tee and let’s get this season underway!
PRATT AT HOISINGTON-What a way to open a season. This is a playoff caliber game. Pratt was disappointed with a fine 7-2 season in 2017, because they were upset by Kingman and missed a chance to defend their 2016 state championship. The Greenbacks return 9 offensive starters and 7 on defense. All-State running back Travis Theis will move to quarterback but in coach Jamie Cruce’s Flexbone offense, Theis will get just as many opportunities to run the ball.
Hoisington will counter with their own version of the Flexbone so if you are a passing fanatic, this game won’t tickle you BUT if you like bone-crunching running and solid blocking from the big guys, then this one is for you! That Hoisington is now a 2A-level team makes no difference. This could be another high-scoring slugfest. The Cardinals return 7 offensive starters and 5 on defense. A battle of two proud programs. I’m glad it does not have playoff implications.
Speed could be the deciding factor in this one and the Greenbacks have the most. Pratt 31, Hoisington 24.
LARNED AT SMOKY VALLEY-This game features two teams that made deep playoff runs in 2017. Smoky Valley returns a lot of their team with 7 offensive starters and 6 on defense while Larned is looking at a lot of new faces. The Vikings will feature Tim Lambert who won three gold medals last spring at the state track meet while setting two state records. Keeping him contained to the inside of the field will be key for the Larned defense.
Larned, though young, counters with a number of outstanding athletes. New head coach Tad Remy’s job is to find the right fits for all of these new faces in key positions. The Indians gave Smoky Valley one of their two losses last year in a 28-14 victory in Larned. The Vikings want to return the favor on their home field this year. The Vikings are two-touchdown favorites based on being a veteran ball club but the Indians might surprise. The punting of Brock Skelton and the kicking of Logan DeMond keeps Larned in this one. Closer than predicted: Smoky Valley 27, Larned 24.
GREAT BEND AT ANDOVER-If you are going to play Andover this year, the first game is the best time to play them. They are in the midst of a youth movement but, oh my, youth with talent! This Andover team will only get better as the season progresses under the direction of super-sophomore quarterback Eli Fahnestock who threw for over 1700 yards last season! The Andover defense will undergo a big makeover this year and Great Bend, with a strong offense, should be able to exploit that in the first game.
Coach Erin Beck’s Black Panthers should be able to take advantage of quarterback Koy Brack’s throwing talents against Andover and the veteran defensive unit should get enough stops to push the Panthers to victory in this season opener. Great Bend 33, Andover 17.
REALLY? KU’s a favorite in a football game? Yep, but not all that much as they host a good FCS team in Nicholls State. If the Jayhawks don’t win this one their season won’t be worth a...uh...NICKEL!
I still say that the NFL has chosen a fight in this National Anthem thing that they cannot win. They’ve been on a morally downhill slide ever since they came down against Tim Tebow and his praying before and during games. Seems like a little thing now but it was the beginning of the NFL losing middle America!
Kansas State 42, South Dakota 17. This is a good South Dakota team but not Big 12 ready!
Many folks have been dazzled by the prospects of new , young, brash quarterback Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs that they forgot that in the NFL you’ve got to play defense too! Just might be a problem for these Chiefs. Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz:
“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it!”
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and her views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.