DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
Panthers power past Dodge City
BY JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend defensive coordinator Jeff Lutt laughed when asked about the chance for back-to-back shutouts.
Lutt is smiling after the Panthers’ rock-solid defense shut out Dodge City 28-0 in Friday’s Western Athletic Conference football game. Great Bend (3-2, 1-1 WAC) takes aim against WAC leader Liberal (5-0, 2-0 WAC) next week.
“Our kids are very excited,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “It’s an exciting opportunity. You’ve got to do it on the road.”
The Panthers’ Trenton Kern set an aggressive tone with a opening tackle that forced a fumble and a blocked punt that set up a return for a touchdown that was nullified. Matthew Johnson recovered a fumble by Dodge City’s Tochi Okoro on the game’s opening play.
“Trent is on another level when the lights come on. He’s an intense, scary dude. The play by Trent on the kickoff set the tone early,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “We played outstanding defense. We came out strong from the get-go with physicality. We were good in all aspects. We never broke defensively. Our D line has come so far. They are competing. We played good assignment football.”
Great Bend moved 27 yards on seven plays for a 7-0 lead. Trenton Kern delivered a second big play when his blocked punt was returned by Cooper Liles 60 yards for a touchdown that was nullified on a penalty. That drive was ended by an interception by Okoro.
Dodge City’s 12 scored on a 17-yard screen pass from Alan Flores that was nullified by a penalty.
The Panthers regained their spirit on a perfect 16-play, 75-yard drive capped by Daxton Minton’s well-executed 6-yard touchdown pass to Kale Kern for a 14-0 lead.
Dodge City missed a field goal as the first half ended.
To start the second half, Miller and Minton went back to work behind the blocking of center Tatum Harper, guards Johnson and Aidan Davidson and tackles Trenton Kern and Owen Kaiser. Minton provided an offensive twist by working the quarterback run game. Miller scored on a 21-yard run to cap an 11-play, 65-yard drive for a 21-0 lead.
“We continued to run the football,” Beck said. “They started to set their defense where Colton Brack blocked. You need to have a counter against that. We did an outstanding job. It’s important to be balanced offensively.”
The Panthers’ final scoring drove covered 68 yards on seven plays. Minton completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ian Premer. Three plays earlier, Premer soared for a dazzling 30-yard reception from tailback Cody Miller to reach the Dodge City 7-yard line.
“Daxton does a lot of things,” Beck said.
The only question was whether the Panthers would complete a shutout.
Guess who took care of business?
Linebacker Trenton Kern hustled to tackle Dodge City quarterback Alan Flores on fourth down just before he raced for a first down at the Great Bend 31-yard line as the game wound down.
Dodge City 0 0 0 0 – 0
Great Bend 7 7 7 7 – 28
GB—Cody Miller 2 run (Diego Soto kick)
GB—Miller 21 run (Soto kick)
GB—Kale Kern 6 pass from Daxton Minton (Soto kick)
GB—Ian Premer 4 pass from Daxton Minton (Soto kick)
RUSHING—DC—GB—40-221; Miller 30-138; Minton 7-72; team 3-(-11).
PASSING—DC—Flores 16-26-0, GB—Minton 10-16-1, 83; Miller 1-1-0, 30.
RECEIVING—DC—Jayden Amaro 6=71; Aguilera 3-41; Unzeuta 3-17; Jon Bone 1-3; Adam Kisner 1-11; Easton Smith 1-11; Gonzalez 1-(-1); GB—Premer 5-72; Jacob Hall 2-16; Colton Brack 2-15; Kale Kern 1-6; Miller 1-4.