After completing one of the toughest early-season schedule around, the Great Bend High School football team has hit the midpoint of the season with a 1-3 record.
Coming off back-to-back losses to Class 6A Super 10 teams in Dodge City and Wichita Heights, 5A Great Bend (1-1 WAC) makes the long trip to Liberal on Friday night for a Western Athletic Conference matchup with the pass-happy Redskins (2-3, 0-3). Kickoff is set for 7.
Great Bend head coach Bo Black and his coaching staff were left searching for answers after the Panthers managed only 213 yards in total offense, including 63 rushing yards, during a 31-14 loss at Dodge City last Friday night.
It has Black throwing down the gauntlet to his offensive line. Get better now, or it’s going to be a long season — a season where there’s still everything to play for.
“The only conclusion we’ve made is until we block somebody, it doesn’t mean anything what we do,” Black said. “The last two weeks, we haven’t been able to pass-protect or run.
“Some of that is that we’ve played some pretty good defensive front-seven teams, but we’re not very good up front, so that’s been our total concentration right now.”
This week in practice, the coaching staff has been moving some players around on the left side of the offensive line, giving some others repetitions in trying to mesh with standout right guard Tyler Uselton and right tackle Sean Keenan.
Hint. You might see some different personnel on the Panthers’ o-line Friday night for the Liberal game.
“Until we get better up front, we can’t run or pass,” Black said. “We’re looking at some personnel changes and we’re going to find some linemen that can have some heart and get the job done. Until then, we’re going to struggle.
“(Panthers senior quarterback Greg) Hildebrand can’t throw the freaking ball with someone in his face, as soon as he gets the snap. It’s not blitzes that are beating us. We’re getting beat by five-techniques, and nose guards coming through a couple times without anybody laying a hand on them.”
No matter what type of offensive package the Panthers have for Liberal, the bottom line is that the blocking has to get better.
“We haven’t been successful with pass protection and run protection in two weeks,” Black said. “Physically, we’ve got our tails whipped up front and until that changes, we’re going to continue to struggle offensively.”