Great Bend’s quarterback/safety Dalton Miller at 6-0, 185 pounds is undersized and humble to a fault.
But when Miller dons his Great Bend football uniform, he magically transforms into a play-making sensation for the Panthers.
Right on cue, he delivered a memorable 44-yard touchdown pass to receiver Alex Schremmer that sparked a 13-10 overtime victory over the Andover Trojans. The comeback from a 10-0 deficit has been profiled on KWCH-TV, local radio and several internet sites.
“That’s the most excited I’ve ever been after a football game,” Miller said. “It’s pretty crazy it came down to that.”
The Panthers’ offensive line gave Miller time to roll right and he spun a pass that traveled more than 50 yards to the endzone.
“I saw Schremmer running and threw it as far as I could. I honestly didn’t know I could throw it that far,” he said. “But I have a lot of confidence in Alex.”
Great Bend coach Erin Beck said the Panthers learned valuable lessons in the opener.
“Things fell our way. We continually fought and they learned to never quit,” Beck said. “I’ve never been a part of anything like that.”
Miller played quarterback in eighth-grade and ninth-grade, but learns something new every day. Playing safety is an advantage to a quarterback.
“I recognize coverages because I’ve played safety since freshman year,” he said. “It helps on offense because you read the safety’s eyes. Sometimes, you look them off and throw the other way.”
Miller earned all-state defensive honors and was named Western Athletic Defensive Player of the Year with 94 tackles, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“If a make a mistake on offense, now I can get it back on defense,” he said. “1 try and do whatever I can to help my team. But we have a lot of stuff to work on.”
The Panthers prevailed 15-7 last year against Hays and have won three of the past four meetings with the Indians.
“Whenever Hays and Great Bend are on the schedule, both teams crank it up a notch,” said Great Bend coach Erin beck. “It’s a knock-down, drag out type of game. Hays elevates their play against Great Bend.”
Beck said his biggest emphasis is securing the line of scrimmage and protecting Miller more efficiently. The offensive line starts tackles Tate Murray and Barrett Lutt, guards Dylan Lamb and Dalton Murphy and center Jason Scott.
“We watched the film and learned from our mistakes,” Beck said. “It was baptism under fire for our offensive line because Andover gave us different looks. We’ve got to protect our quarterback better. We need to line up and get plays in quicker.”
Hays High yielded 436 yards, 299 passing to Junction City’s big-play aerial game.
First-year quarterback Dylan Dreiling threw for 130 yards and receiver Jaren Kanak scored on an 88-yard punt return and had 75 yards receiving. Halfback Hayden Brown rushed for 101 yards.
“Hays shifts Hayden Brown. He’s their emotional spark,” Beck said. “We’ll know where he’s lined up and do our best to take him away.”