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Panthers to face former head coach
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There’s good news and bad news for Andover High football coach Tony Crough heading to Friday’s classic playoff showdown against No. 1 ranked Great Bend. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
The good news is no opposing coach knows Great Bend’s personnel better than Crough, who coached the Panthers three years — including a trip to the Class 5A state playoffs last year.
The bad news is Crough understands the talent of Panther quarterback Jacob Murray, who leads an offense averaging 449 yards and 44 ppg. Murray averages 307 yards total offense with 1,607 yards passing and 1,154 yards rushing. He’s passed for 17 scores and rushed for 23 touchdowns.
Panthers TB Cal Marshall (1,012 yards, 13 TDs) and WR Bryce Lytle (878 yards, nine TDs) provide more offensive firepower.
“It’s a little scary because I know what they’re capable of,” Crough said. “I know the heart of those kids. They’re winners. I knew they were going to be good this year.”
LB Max Jerke intercepted three passes and the Panthers gained six takeaways in a 70-31 victory over Topeka West last week. The Panthers are plus 14 on turnovers with four turnovers. Andover will pose a similar challenge, averaging 253 yards passing.
“Six takeaways was good to see,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “We haven’t seen teams that spread the field and throw the ball all over the field until last week. It’s an adjustment. Once we dropped guys into coverage, we played better.”
Beck believes defensive play will make the difference, whether it’s limiting big plays or creating takeaways.
“It’s which defense has guys that step up and shut down the playmaker,” he said.
Murray’s running balances the Panthers’ offense, which averages 256 yards rushing.
“A lot of them are designed plays, plus he’ll get reads inside the players which are called,” Beck said. Jacob is a special player who does an awesome job.”
LB Payton Mauler and WR Brayden Smith will return after missing last week’s playoff game.
“Payton is a coach on the field and you he always knows what to do,” Beck said. “We have talented kids who have learned how to win and compete.”
Crough has retooled Andover’s pass-friendly offense, which is averaging 30 points and 392 yards per game. Andover QB Chase Oberg has thrown for 2,281 yards and 20 touchdowns. WR Evan Bell (1,183 yards, 12 TDs) and TB Robert Bundy (839 yards, 12 TDs) provide the Trojans with offensive skill.
“It’s eerily similar because they do a lot of the same stuff on offense,” Beck said. “Their receivers go get the football and their athletic quarterback throws it all over the field.”
Andover avenged a 34-31 loss to Goddard Eisenhower with a 35-14 playoff victory last week. Bell had 145 receiving yards with two TDs and Bundy gained 156 yards with two scores.
Beck was equally impressed with Andover’s defensive play, which featured four defensive down linemen. Andover’s defense is undersized, built on speed much like Great Bend’s defense.
“Their defense stepped up against Goddard Eisenhower and their players were flying around,” Beck said. “They were geared up for that game. We’ll make sure our team is ready to play.”

ANDOVER (6-3)
Salina Central 48-20
Kapaun Mt. Carmel 21-18
Goddard 14-50
Andover Central 23-6
Campus 19-14
Newton 45-21
Goddard-Eisenhower 31-34
Valley Center 33-57
Goddard-Eisenhower 35-14

GREAT BEND (8-1)
Coffeyville 57-13
Hays High 35-14
Wichita NW 58-47
Dodge City 34-27
Wichita West 42-21
Wichita East 41-10
Liberal 49-7
Garden City 14-21
Topeka West 70-31

PANTHER OFFENSE
7 QB—Jacob Murray, 5-11, 200
11 TB—Cal Marshall, 5-10, 185
20 WR—Bryce Lytle, 5-9, 150
9 WR—Brayden Smith, 6-5, 200
12 WR—Koy Brack, 6-0, 165
28 WR—Cory Burnham, 5-11, 155
76 RT—Aaron Clark, 6-8, 300
62 RG—Payton Doll, 5-11, 190
71 C—Kaden Schroeder, 5-9, 250
59 LG—Trevor Fehr, 5-11, 195
78 LT—Noah Presson, 6-5, 280

PANTHER DEFENSE
56 DE—Pablo Martinez, 6-0, 185
14 DE—Dom Rideaux, 5-8, 205
55 NG—Eric Vazquez, 5-11, 200
6 OLB—Max Jerke, 5-7, 145
10 SLB—Jensen Randall, 5-11, 180
32 WLB—Payton Mauler, 5-10, 175
34 MLB—Blake Penka, 5-11, 180
36 OLB—Braulio Vargas, 5-8, 185
15 CB—Nick Reed, 5-11, 170
27 CB—Mason YellowWolf, 5-9, 165
16 S—Dalton Miller, 5-10, 160