5A state playoffs
Valley Center (3-5) at Great Bend (6-2)
7 p.m. Memorial Stadium
BY JIM MISUNAS
Valley Center’s Larry Wilson is 5-8, 170 pounds, but he’s the Hornets’ offensive spark. The speedy Wilson will be the focus of Great Bend’s defense when the 5A state playoffs kick off Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Wilson has rushed for 669 yards and eight scores with 25 receptions for 517 receiving yards and four scores.
“We’ll make sure we know where Wilson is at all times,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “We’re doing a good job taking something away from the offense. When they’ve got a No. 1 player, you want to make someone else beat you.”
Panther All-WAC linebacker Blake Penka said the defense will check where Wilson lines up.
“We feel like we’re putting things together defensively,” said Penka. “We’ve worked hard in practice and in the weight room and it’s nice to see all that hard work pay off. It’s starting to show on Friday night.”
Penka leads the aggressive Panthers with 74 tackles, 10 for loss. He enjoys when he sees a green light to blitz on a short-yardage situation.
“It’s situational football, but we’ll definitely blitz a guy on third-and-short,” Penka said. “It’s usually my job to fill a defensive gap.”
Penka said defensive plays for losses are what inspire the Panthers’ defense. The Panthers have limited the last three teams to one touchdown apiece after losing 36-33 to Wichita Carroll.
“It’s team defense, and once one of us gets a tackle in the backfield, it gets everyone fired up,” he said. “We’ve continued to gain confidence.”
Great Bend (6-2, 4-0 WAC) captured the WAC title with a 49-6 victory over Garden City. The Panthers own nine WAC football titles, six outright championships.
“From the first whistle, we dominated that game,” Beck said. “We’re playing defense as well as I’ve seen in three years. It was exciting and hopefully, we can keep this going.”
Two years ago, the Panthers rallied past Valley Center 28-24 with 80- and 87-yard scoring drives to reach the 5A semifinals.
“Valley Center hit us hard two years ago. Playoff football raises the excitement level a notch,” Beck said. “These guys are confident and having fun. Ut’s a group that likes to go to practice every day and get better. Winning is hard. It’s difficult.”
Beck believes the Panthers need to improve in the playoffs.
“We know we’re battle tested, because we have experience of playing against the big boys,” Beck said. “But we’ve got improvement to make. I’m confident we’ll continue to play better football.”
BY THE NUMBERS
VALLEY CENTER (3-5)
W—Garden City 41-20
W—Maize South 23-13
L—Andover Central 17-27
W—Andover High 13-10
L—Arkansas City 20-34
L—Goddard Eisenhower 20-34
GREAT BEND (6-2)
W—Andover High 35-12
W—Hays High 15-7
L—Wichita Northwest 34-56
W—Dodge City 35-15
L—Wichita Carroll 33-36
W—Andover Central 30-7
W—Garden City 49-6
RUSHING—GB—202-1,364 yards; Gage Fritz 84-742-5 TD; Koy Brack 74-244-11 TDs; Dalton Miller 46-344-2 TD; VC—Larry Wilson 143-669, 8 TDs; Parker Schrater 39-(-28).
PASSING—GB—Brack, 102-179-8, 1,647, 18 TDs; VC—Parker Schrater 102-198-7, 15,70, 11 TDs
RECEIVING—GB—Alex Schremmer, 40-856-11 TDs; Miller 20-253-4 TDs; Peyton Duvall, 22-312-1 TD; Calan Haberman 15-769, 2 TD; VC—Larry Wilson 25-517, 4 TDs; Jeren Carter 17-331, 1 TD; Amado Carillo 22-152, 1 TD.
TACKLES—GB—Blake Penka 74 tackles-10 loss; Dalton Miller, 65-5 int.; Brock Blessing 55; Alan Miramontes 39; Pablo Martinez 44-7 loss; VC—Layton Lewis 79; Cooper Holdawqay 74; Blake Holt 64.
PANTHER OFFENSE—WR—2 Alex Schremmer; WR—3 Peyton Duvall; WR—7 Calan Haberman; QB—12 Koy Brack; WR—16 Dalton Miller; TB—29 Gage Fritz; LT—55 Eric Vazquez; LG—58 Marcus Schmeidler; RG—62 Payton Doll; C—71 Kade Schroeder; RT—73 Andrew Wettengel
PANTHER DEFENSE—CB—1 Bryce Brown; LB—5 Brock Blessing; LB—11 Pablo Martinez/23 Jeffrey Spragis; SS—16 Dalton Miller; OLB—17 Alex Olivas; CB—33 Townshend Kurth; LB—34 Blake Penka; OLB—36 Joey Soupiset; DE—52 Alan Miramontes; NG—55 Eric Vazquez; DE—85 Matt Zorn
HORNET OFFENSE—WR—4—Jeren Carter; QB—5—Parker Schrater; WR-RB—19 Larry Wilson; WR—29—Amado Carillo; LG—50 Brennon Turner; LT—53 Dylan Simmons; RG—58 Austin Coash; RT—66 Jerod Payne; C—72 Spencer Niedens; TE-WR—85—Zach Williams; WB—89 Alex Sanchez
HORNET DEFENSE—DB—2 Blayne Hightower; DB—11 Jaythan Lutz; CB—19 Larry Wilson; CB—21 Dakota Kieso; LB—24 Layton Lewis; OLB—25 Cooper Holdaway; LB—30 Mitchell Trible; LB—38—Blake Holt; DL—54 Tony Caldwell; DL—64 Garrett Craft; DL—95—Brennan Ricks