This is it.
This is a win-or-go-home game.
This is a make-or-break Class 5A District 7 high school football game for both Great Bend and Salina Central — a must-win proposition.
“It’s just exactly that,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said. “The shining light in all of this is that we control our own destiny.
“(Salina Central) is in the same position. It’s a must-win game for both teams, if you want to make it to the playoffs.”
Both GBHS and Central are 0-1 in district play, thus the losing team from tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Salina District Stadium finds itself on the outside looking in — as far as the postseason picture unfolds.
While the Mustangs are coming off a 23-20 loss to bitter rival Salina South last Friday night, Great Bend (5-2, 0-1) lost to bitter rival Hays at home, 31-13.
“The real key for us is bouncing back,” Black said, “and our kids being able to overcome the disappointment and matching the same type of intensity that they had last week.”
With last week’s win over Great Bend, Hays (6-1, 1-0), which entertains Salina South (6-1, 1-0) tonight, won the Western Athletic Conference championship outright with a 4-0 record.
Central (2-5, 0-1) had a 1-4 record in the Ark Valley-Chisolm Trail Division-I standings.
Much like the Panthers, Central’s offense is predicated by its run game.
The Mustangs, who are averaging 19.3 points per game, are averaging 218.1 rushing yards and 83.6 passing yards.
• Harrison: WAC tackles leader
Great Bend senior linebacker Hunter Harrison leads the WAC with 108 tackles on the season.
In case you’re wondering, the single-season tackles record at GBHS was set during the 2006 season by Matt Patzner (148).
Chad Touslee, a senior defensive end for the Panthers, ranks No. 5 in the conference with 71 stops. Touslee also has three sacks, tied for second in the WAC with four other players.
“Those two guys have been very good defensive players for us all season,” Black said of the duo.
• Ibarra leads WAC in picks
GBHS senior cornerback Brock Ibarra is tied for the WAC lead with three interceptions on the season, matching Hays’ Chance Pitcock and Dodge City’s Taylor Murphy.
It is the second straight season Ibarra has made at least three interceptions. In 2011, Ibarra and teammate Chris Burley each had three picks to lead the conference.
• Brack leads in recoveries
Panthers sophomore defensive tackle Jayce Brack leads the WAC in fumble recoveries. He recorded his third recovery during the Hays game.