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WAC counterparts thrive in running games
spt mm Black talks to offense
Great Bend head coach Bo Black speaks with his offensive unit on Wednesday during the Panthers practice. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

It will be a battle of two high-octane running games going head-to-head tonight in Hays at Lewis Field Stadium.
Great Bend (3-2, 3-0) vs. Hays (5-1, 2-1).
The Panthers feature a wide array of ball-carriers to choose from:
There’s junior Joshua Lopez, who ranks No. 7 in the Western Athletic Conference with 344 rushing yards. He is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, including 122 yards in 22 carries in a 37-14 beating of Liberal last Friday and 154 yards in 25 carries during the Panthers’ 28-7 shutdown of Dodge City the week before.
Quarterback Mitch Kottas, a salty runner in his own right, also has the likes of running back Jeremy Sigler to hand off to, along with cat-quick sophomore Jonathan Allende and fullback Matt Marshall.
And that doesn’t even include their receivers, who sometimes run the ball on inside reverses.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the run game is where we’re going to be successful with this group,” GBHS head coach Bo Black said. “We found some different ways to do that, different ways to run the football, a lot different than what we anticipated at the beginning of the year.
“It’s kind of evolved into that. I still think we’re working really hard to develop our passing game and confidence in our quarterback and wide receivers and being able to make plays and keep teams off-balance.”
The Panthers’ success running the ball has a direct correlation with their offensive line.
“It starts with the offensive line and they’ve stepped up,” Black said. “We’ve worked John Verbeck into that offensive line, at times, and have moved some kids around in different formations, trying to give a lot of different looks.
“It’s evolving a little bit and we’re trying to add to some things that we’ve been successful at.”
Hays, the top offensive team in the league, counters with leading rusher David Cardinal, who has totaled 731 yards on the season, and quarterback Austin Unrein, who ranks No. 2 in the WAC with 599 yards.
And, the Indians  also have a formidable offensive front.
“They bring the best offensive line that we have seen all year,” Black said of Hays. “(Class 6A state brute) Wichita Heights had a really good offensive line, but it was the speed of the backs and the size and speed of the wide receivers out on the perimeter locking down on blocks with those guys.
“Hays wants to run right at you in a physical style of play. They have a good offensive line, a really good fullback and a very highly touted tailback. They’ve just got some weapons and they’re solid everywhere. They have really good schemes and they’re coached real well.”