Great Bend High School and Salina South share common ground for tonight’s Class 5A District 6 football matchup. Kickoff is set for 7 at Memorial Stadium.
Both teams have had roller coaster seasons as the Panthers are 3-4 overall and South is 3-5.
Salina Central, 2-0 in district play, leads the four-team district at plus-16 in the points standings. Great Bend is second at minus-2, South is third at minus-6 and Hays is fourth at minus-8.
All four teams are mathematically alive. And, for the Panthers, the quest is simple.
Win or go home. Well, almost.
The Panthers need to win by as many as seven points to secure a place in the playoffs, no matter what anyone else does.
Then again, why not win by 20?
“We’re going to try to win by as many points as we can,” Great Bend quarterback Greg Hildebrand.
As far as Great Bend head coach Bo Black is concerned, the measure of desperation should already be in place.
Yet, that wasn’t the case for four full quarters last Friday during the Panthers’ 42-20 loss at Central, a game where Great Bend trailed 13-12 late in the first half before a 1-yard interception return for a Mustangs touchdown gave the host team a 21-13 lead going into halftime.
Although the Panthers closed the gap to 28-20 during the third quarter, Central pulled away with the final two scores of the game.
“I thought we played an uninspired game,” Black said of the Central game. “We just didn’t have the fire in our eyes that we did the week before (during a 17-6 home win over Western Athletic Conference foe Hays in the district opener).
“Not in all phases, but at times, it was the only game that I was kind of disappointed with their effort (against Central).”
There was so much to play for then, and there’s so much to play for tonight. No senior wants their season to end.
“We’ve addressed this earlier in the week,” Black said.