Over the past two seasons, the Great Bend High School Panthers have worn the tag of having the toughest all-class football schedule in the state.
Traditionally-tough Class 5A St. Thomas Aquinas and 2011 6A state runner-up and 2010 state champion Wichita Heights were featured opponents in early-season games the last two campaigns— all losses.
Starting this fall, the Panthers are taking a smaller venue, the toughest slate a thing of the past.
Great Bend opens its campaign against nearby 3A Hoisington on the road in non-conference play on Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. The Panthers then make a trip out west to 4A Ulysses for Game 2 on Sept. 7, a welcome sight after they had idle dates the past two seasons in those slots.
The battle for the Western Athletic Conference championship won’t get any easier with defending champion Hays loaded and touted running back David Cardinal returning.
Great Bend, which finished 4-4 last season, has an upcoming schedule that includes nine games, five on the road. Incidentally, four of Great Bend’s first six games are on the road.
GBHS entertains WAC opponent Garden City at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14 in the home and conference opener.
Homecoming festivities are set for Sept. 21, with Wichita North coming to town as the Panthers’ third non-conference opponent.
Great Bend then hits the road for WAC play the next two weeks, heading to Dodge City on Sept. 28 and Liberal on Oct. 15, before returning home for the WAC finale and district opener against Hays on Oct. 12.
The Panthers travel to Salina Central on Oct. 19, and then put a wrap on district play on Oct. 26 at home against Salina South.
GREAT BEND HIGH SCHOOL
2012 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 31 — At Hoisington
Sept. 7 — At Ulysses
Sept. 14 — GARDEN CITY
Sept. 21 — WICHTA NORTH, (Homecoming)
Sept. 28 — At Dodge City
Oct. 5 — At Liberal
Oct. 12 — HAYS
Oct. 19 — At Salina Central
Oct. 26 — SALINA SOUTH
Nov. 2 — Regional, TBA
Nov. 9 — Sectional, TBA
Nov. 16 — Semifinal, TBA
Nov. 24 — State, TBA
All games 7 p.m unless noted otherwise