Remember the talk of Great Bend High School’s schedule strength?
As it turned out, the Panthers’ 2010 football schedule was indeed the toughest in the state.
The growing pains of losing to the likes of Class 6A powerhouses Wichita Heights and Dodge City, along with 5A St. Thomas Aquinas, ultimately paid off for the Panthers in the form of a first-round home game in the state playoffs.
When Great Bend (4-4) entertains Bishop Carroll (7-2) Friday night at 7 at Memorial Stadium, it will be a battle-tested and galvanized Panthers football team that has endured adversity en route to the postseason.
“I don’t look at many websites this time of year,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said. “But Prep Power Index.com has us for difficulty of the schedule, the most difficult schedule in the State of Kansas. There’s a lot of 7-2, 6-3 and 5-4 teams sitting at home.
“We go back to what we talked about earlier in the year (with the Great Bend’s schedule strength). My assessment has always been that if you’ve made the playoffs, you’ve had a successful season. We’ve chosen that road to hoe with some difficult games and here were are playing in a playoff game against a great opponent and we’ve played great opponents.”
During crunch time, 5A district play, where the Panthers weathered a loss to Salina Central, sandwiching impressive victories over Hays and Salina South to bypass Central for the district crown in the points system breakdown.
Now comes Carroll, one of the most established schools in Wichita.
“We’re going to be big underdogs going into the game,” Black said. “We’ve been through the ups and downs, and we’ve been in this position before.
“The only difference is now is there is no learning from the defeat. If you lose, there is no tomorrow. We’ve got to find ways to get it done.”