For Great Bend High School’s football team, it’s the last chance.
Their last chance at a winning record. The Panthers sit at 4-4 on the season, one win away from breaking .500.
More importantly according to GBHS head coach Bo Black, their last chance to get it right.
The problem is, the Panthers are facing arguably their most difficult opponent all season, traveling to Salina to take on the South Cougars tonight at 7.
“We are in a tough spot because we’re 4-4 and playing the best team on our schedule,” Black said. “This is just one more opportunity to eliminate mistakes.
“We’ve been playing the toughest part of our schedule.”
Great Bend has hit hard times of late.
The Panthers defense has given up 88 points in the last two games.
In the previous six games, Great Bend allowed an average of 22.6 points per game, compared to the 44 points-per-game average of its Class 5A District 7 games.
Furthermore, the Panthers have been relinquishing massive amounts of rushing yards.
Hays’ Preston Weigel rushed for 210 yards on 34 carries (6.18 yards-per-carry), and Salina Central’s Malik Veal cruised for 288 yards on 29 carries (9.93).
This is something that needs to stop, according to Black.
“Just finishing (is the main focus),” Black said, “and playing with pride. More than that, playing to our potential. We need to eliminate mistakes.
“It’s a little demoralizing when a team runs right at you.”
So now this is their chance.
The Panthers have one more shot at ending the season with a good memory.
Unfortunately, it’s against Salina South, which is 6-2 overall, 2-0 in the district, and is ranked No. 4 in 5A.
The Cougars have a balanced offensive attack.
Salina South’s leading rusher is senior Mike Jones, who has 1,074 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averages 7.79 yards per carry.
“They have the fastest kids in the state at tailback, Mike Jones,” Black said. “They returned nine starters from last year’s team. They have a good quarterback that can run and throw.
“They have a physical line and fullback that they run behind.”
Cougars quarterback Justin Stonebraker has completed 66 of 105 passes (41.9 percent) for 1,199 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has thrown three interceptions.
Stonebraker has also rushed for 635 yards and seven TDs.
Zach Nachbar is Salina South’s leading receiver with 823 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
Great Bend quarterback Bryce Beck has completed 41 of 94 passes (43.6 percent) for 576 yards and six touchdowns. He has also rushed for 441 yards and four TDs.
Panthers tailback Johnny Allende has rushed for 747 yards and nine scores.