If you don’t think Great Bend High School has had as tough of schedule as anyone in the state, listen to this:
“Somebody told me the other day that looking at our three losses, all three (St. Thomas Aquinas, Wichita Heights and Dodge City) are 15-0 and ranked in the Super 10 top all-class teams in the state,” Panthers head coach Bo Black said. “Wichita Heights is ranked No. 3, Aquinas is No. 6 and Dodge City moved in to No. 10.
“Our three losses are to three Super 10 teams, and that’s the bottom line. What has happened at this point is totally irrelevant in where we go from here and identifying things that we have to get better at and make a surge at this point in the season.”
To be sure, the Panthers (1-3 overall, 1-1 Western Athletic Conference) need to step it up tonight at 7 at Liberal (2-3, 0-3). After all, this is the prelude to Class 5A district play for Great Bend, which will be encountering Hays, Salina Central and Salina South in succession for the right to advance to the first round of the state playoffs.
The biggest eyesore has been the Panthers’ blocking, which they have tried to address during practices this week.
“At the same time, everybody is positive and everybody is working hard,” Black said. “Everyone wants to get better. It’s not a lack of effort. We feel like we can still get this turned around.”
The Panthers and Redskins are currently enduring the same plight.
“Liberal has been a pretty good team and struggled,” Black said, “and we’ve been beaten by some pretty good teams and struggled.”
Great Bend’s pass defense will have its hands full tonight.
The Redskins’ Jade Cathey sits atop the WAC receiving charts and and teammate Tyson Deaton ranks No. 2 behind conference passing leader Slader McVey.
“The secondary is really going to be tested this week, obviously,” Black said. “But they’ve come a long ways and continue to get better.
“Defensively, there are teams that are going to get some mismatches on us because we’re not very fast and not very big in places.”
Still, in determining their success, it all goes back to how well the Panthers battle at the line of scrimmage
“There’s no way that we can sugarcoat it anymore,” Black said. “We’re not very good up front with our offensive line. If it doesn’t get corrected this week at this point and we don’t get better immediately, then we’re going to see a major struggle the rest of the way out.
“We’ve talked about being tougher, more physical and having better tackling in a football game.That’s been taken to heart by the secondary, the defensive line and linebackers. The offensive linemen have missed the boat on that. The offensive line is a lot like anything else. No matter how you line up, essentially, you’re going to be responsible for blocking one man. Right now, we’re guaranteed that we’re going to get one block and then the next four are question marks.”