BY JIM MISUNAS
In a year where little has gone right, Great Bend will expect that Homecoming 2020 against Liberal (1-4, 1-2 WAC) will flip the switch after a nightmarish 0-4 start.
It’s hard to imagine, but the Panthers (0-4, 0-2 WAC) could vault seven spots in the 4A football 16-team playoff seedings. McPherson (4-1), Andover Central (3-1), Buhler (3-1) and Wamego (3-2) own winning records.
Great Bend coach Erin Beck truly believes his team has learned a lot during the four-game stretch. Last week, two turnovers to start the game helped Dodge City win 35-14.
“We beat ourselves to start that game,” Beck said. “We’re better when we can script our offensive plays. When you have to throw the ball, we can struggle. We’ve learned a lot about our character. We’re doing everything to celebrate the little victories. We’ll focus on what we can control.”
Panther QB Joseph Moeder has thrown for 394 yards and rushed for 163 yards to lead an offense that averages 124 yards passing and 83 yards rushing. Paco Hernandez has 25 catches for 171 yards and Laken Webb has 12 catches fof 133 yards.
“We rely on our offensive line and we need to create with play action,” Beck said. “Joseph moeder is doing a good job. We need more players step up and make plays when they get a chance. There’s more football to be played.”
Establishing a solid running game is critical to success. The Panthers ran a high-energy “Oklahoma drill,” to spark the team this week.
“We’ve tried to install some toughness and it’s a chance to play physical,” Beck said. “We’re staying positive.”
Liberal lightning-quick RB Easton Zapien has rushed for 513 yards and three scores with a high game of 139 yards on 29 carries. QB Trey Kerr has passed for 321 yards for two scores and four interceptions. WR Jaylin Staten has 127 yards and WR Malcom Wiltshite has 141 yards. The Redskins operate the tailback and quarterback-run game.
“We have confidence in our defense, which has gotten better each week,” Beck said. “We forced two turnovers and blocked a punt last week. Liberal plays hard once they gain their confidence. They’ve got skilled receivers who make explosive plays. It’s going to be a good football game.”
The Panthers did not create much positive momentum after a week off before Dodge City.
“You can’t simulate experience of playing Friday night,” he said. “Anytime you can play football it’s better for your team.”
LIBERAL (1-4, 1-2)
Goodland 43, Liberal 32
Dodge City 35, Liberal 0
Hays High 27, Liberal 12
Ulysses 22, Liberal 12
Liberal 20, Garden City 6
GREAT BEND (0-4, 0-2)
Maize South 56, Great Bend 0
Hays High 43, Great Bend 14
McPherson 31, Great Bend 13
Dodge City 35, Great Bend 14
PANTHER OFFENSE—QB 12—Joseph Moeder; RB 5—Gavin Haberman; TE 13—Mathew Moeder; RT 61—Devin Lamb; RG 67—Elias Moreno; C 60—Jason Scott; LG 52—Broc Reed; LT 55 Anthony Paez; WR 2—Paco Hernandez; WR 6—Stefan Spray; WR 21—Laken Webb
PANTHER DEFENSE—RE 22—Matt Neiman; NG 65—Greg Summers; LE 67—Elias Moreno; OLB 12—Joseph Moeder; MLB 30—Evan Wedel; MLB 33—Jade Poe; OLB 13—Mathew Moeder; CB 24—Austin Moore; CB 7—Braylan Council; FS 9—Kaden Spragis; SS 2—Paco Hernandez;