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Another start
Panthers readying for their second game after they had rare bye week last Friday
spt deh gb football pic web
Great Bend running back Dakota Ellis is stacked up at the line of scrimmage by St. Thomas Aquinas defensive line during the season opener two weeks ago. After having a rare bye week last Friday, the Panthers play their second game of the season tonight in Garden City. GBHS enters the game with a 0-1 record, and Garden City, which has a new coach, is 1-1. - photo by Dale Hogg, Great Bend Tribune

First-year Garden City High School head football coach Brian Hill and Great Bend head coach Bo Black have known each other since their playing days at Emporia State University.
Hill, formerly the offensive coordinator at Garden City Community College, took over the Buffaloes’ program in the offseason, replacing Mike Smith.
Even though he’s coaching in the Western Athletic Conference for the first time, Hill knows that his former college teammate will have the Panthers ready for tonight’s game in Garden City. Kickoff is set for 7 at Memorial Stadium. It is the WAC opener for both teams.
“I’ve been explaining to our kids that we didn’t want to be judged after one game, and we’re definitely not judging Great Bend after one game,” Hill said.
“(The Panthers) made some mistakes, and St. Thomas is a very, very good football team. I know Coach Black well enough to know that their teams are always prepared. Any Bo Black-coached team is a dangerous football team, just because he’s willing to try and do anything to win a football game.”
Hill lost his debut in Week 1, as Garden City lost 16-14 to Scott City. But the Buffaloes bounced back with a 19-8 road victory over Woodward, Okla., to level their record at 1-1.
On offense, Garden City is led by quarterback Cody Bernbeck and wide receiver Raul Silva. Bernbeck has completed 18 of 30 passes for 255 yards in the Buffs’ first two games.
Silva, Bernbeck’s top target, has caught 12 passes for 208 yards and a pair scoring receptions. He ranks third in the WAC, trailing only to Liberal’s Jade Cathey (270 yards) and Dodge City’s Rico Hogan (232).
“We’re going to go with some seniors that obviously have some experience over the past couple years,” Hill said. “We’re going to go into every game riding their coat tails to success.
“They’ve had a good start to the season and hopefully, we can continue that.”
A big key to putting the clamps on Garden City’s offense is putting heavy pursuit on the scrambling Bernbeck, as well as jamming Silva at the line of scrimmage before he gets downfield.
“Offensively, they’ve got the Bernbeck kid back, who’s a really good quarterback,” Black said, “and No. 10, Raul Silva, he’s a huge threat. They’re always trying to find ways to get him the ball.
“We’d like to get after (Bernbeck) and not let him feel too comfortable in the pocket. They want to make plays through (Silva) and he’s their big-play guy. It’s important to know where he’s at, and he’s a threat on the field, no matter where he’s lined up. I think more than anything, we need to know where (Silva) is at all of the time.”
Hill, in the meantime, is just as concerned about containing Great Bend quarterback Greg Hildebrand, who has dual-threat capabilities. Hildebrand had 13 carries for 49 yards while completing 16 of 29 passes for 160 yards against Aquinas.
“We have to take one or the other away from him,” Hill said of Hildebrand. “We’ll have to try to keep him contained in the pocket and not let him make big plays with his arm and his legs.”
Hildebrand has several wideouts to throw to, including the explosive Alex Reed, Connor Sell, Logan Buehler and Jace Bowman.
“It is strange,” Hill said. “We will have played three games (after tonight) and we have played against a quarterback who has started three years in a row.
“Having that experience on the other side, we respect everything that (Hildebrand) does and what he means to their football team as Cody does to ours. (Hildebrand) has been running their system, obviously for a while, and any time you get that, he’s a very dangerous weapon with all of the experience that he has.”