BY JIM MISUNAS
ANDOVER — It’s a familiar script for Great Bend’s football team — Andover Central will mark the third consecutive week the Panthers are a road underdog. Dodge City beat the Panthers 24-21 and Wichita Carroll downed Great Bend 28-14 the past two weeks to continue one of the state’s toughest schedules.
Great Bend (2-3) owns the 11th-best record in the western half, but a late-season surge would vault the Panthers into the top eight teams for a 5A playoff home game.
“A victory will put in better position to finish the regular season strong,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. Andover Central’s Shomon Parnell is exactly the type of run/pass quarterback who has given the Panthers’ defense trouble.
Parnell has thrown for 1,131 yards and 12 touchdowns. WR Xavier Bell (423 yards, 6 TDs) and WR Matthew Macy (482 yards, 5 TDs) are primary targets. The Jaguars average 237 yards passing.
The 4A Jaquars (4-1) were a play or two away from beating Maize South, but Maverick Harper Kennedy returned an interception 34 yards for a score and Trevion Mitchell returned a fumble 33 yards for the gamewinning touchdown. The Jaguars gave the ball away five times on turnovers.
Great Bend quarterback Dalton Miller accounted for 100 percent of the Panthers’ yards with 191 yards passing and 79 yards rushing against Carroll. Alex Schremmer had 10 catches for 139 yards.
Miller has thrown for 668 yards and four touchdowns. Schremmer (425 yards, 2 TDs) and Peyton Duvall (194 yards, 2 TDs) are top targets. Miller has gained 624 yards with six scores. All-WAC tailback Gage Fritz (233 yards) will return after sitting out the past few weeks.
Great Bend coach Erin Beck has two primary goals — reestablish a running game identity and pressure the opposing quarterback.
“It’s an important game to get back our offensive identity," Beck said. "We need to re-establish our running game.
Once Carroll shut down the Panthers' short passing game, Great Bend did not adjust after halftime.
"Gage Fritz will help with that," Beck said. "We ran some counters with our quarterback run game."
The Panthers' chief defensive weakness was been lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback.
"We've got to pressure the quarterback, and if we do that, we'll plan on getting some takeaways," Beck said.