The 2017 debut for Great Bend Panther football team starts with a 250-mile trip Friday to Coffeyville. The four-hour trip starts Friday morning and will be accompanied by a pep bus, organized by the Panther Booster Club.
The Panthers, 10-2 last year, raced past the 3-6 Golden Tornado 57-13 last year.
The Panthers rolled up 471 yards offense with 229 yards rushing and 242 yards passing last year against Field Kindley High School. Linebackers Blake Penka and Brock Blessing combined for a game-ending tackle that sidelined Field Kindley quarterback C.J. Kelley. Backup quarterback Hunter Mason played after Kelley was sidelined on the second series of the game.
“Anytime you face a long trip, that’s the first challenge of how you react to that,” said Great Bend coach Erin Beck. “For a lot of our our players, this is their first chance to play in a big-time varsity football atmosphere. The nice thing is our fans will travel. It’s a community that cares about football.”
The Panthers return four starters in the offensive line, which eases the transition for first-year quarterback Koy Brack, who played effectively in spot duty last season. Tailback Gage Fritz and all of the receivers are new.
Beck said the Panthers’ primary goal is to play with maximum effort.
“The biggest thing we preach is to give 100 percent effort,” he said. “We want our defense to fly around to the football. We want our guys to finish every block. I’m sure Coffeyville’s defense will give us some different looks. If we play with effort, we’ll be OK.”
Beck’s main goal is to limit mental mistakes and show the ability to respond to a mistake.
“Our goal is to minimize mental mistakes — silly penalties and unforced errors,” he said. “We want to line up correctly. We’d like to show that ‘grit’ factor when we respond to a mistake. We want to be a football team that responds when something doesn’t go right.”
Fielkd Kindley quarterback Kelley threw for 1,078 yards and seven passing touchdowns and rushed for six scores. The Golden Tornado returns WR Jaylen Logan, RB Jacob Jackson WR Cody Smith.
The Golden Tornado mix a power run and counter game with their passing game spiced by screen passes.
“The biggest factor is adjusting to their speed because they have very talented quick players,” Beck said. “By the end of last year, they were playing much better football. They understood better what they wanted to do.”
WR—Dalton Bieker, Bryce Brown, Ty Esfeld, Dalton Miller
LT—Aaron Clark; LG—Trevor Fehr; C—Kaden Schroeder, RG—Payton Doll; RT—Andrew Wettengel
DL—Pablo Martinez, Eric Vazquez, NG—Alan Miramontes
LB—Brock Blessing, Blake Penka, Zach Seymour
DB—Max Jerke, Joey Soupiset
CB—David Garcia, Townshend Kurth