Memorial Stadium has become a temple of doom for Great Bend High School football visitors this season.
“It was Senior Night and our kids obviously enjoy playing at home,” Great Bend head coach Bo Black said.
The Panthers finished their home slate unbeaten in four games, capped by their 27-13 Class 5A District 6 whacking of Salina Central on Friday night.
Better yet, Great Bend enters the district and regular-season finale this coming Friday night against the Salina South Cougars at Salina Stadium having control of its destiny.
It’s win or go home, plain and simple.
“It’s all about winning,” Black said. “The points system won’t come into play now. For us, it’s win and keep going or lose and stay home.”
Black said after the win that he was already thinking about some schemes and things for the upcoming tilt with Salina South — even before the final few minutes melted off the game clock against the Mustangs.
In other district action, Hays edged Salina South 28-24 on Friday night in Hays. The Indians (2-0) are currently in first place in the district, followed by Great Bend and South at 1-1. Central is 0-2.
The Panthers, who improved to 4-3 overall, continued a trend of grinding out yardage on the ground with time-consuming drives.
Junior running back Josh Lopez ran for his fourth straight 100-yard game, accumulating 127 yards in 27 carries.
“No matter who carried the ball, the offensive line really carried us and Tyler Uselton really dominated the game from the first snap to the last snap,” Black said.
Yet Lopez was driving his feet and fighting for additional yardage, resulting in big gains.
“No question about it,” said Black in reference. “That was huge. A lot of yardage, and it’s just a young man that’s a lot of fun to continually watch grow and he did so tonight — again.”
Great Bend also continued to make strides in its vastly improving passing game, along with dominating the Mustangs with a suffocating and opportunistic defense, led by senior linebacker Jeremy Sigler and freshman Jayce Brack, along with the likes of Brock Ibarra, who made two pass interceptions. Brack had five tackles and three quarterback sacks, and Sigler had a team-high eight tackles and batted down a pair of passes.
It was a case of several playmakers all over the field.
Great Bend finished with 361 yards total offense — 229 rushing yards and 132 passing yards. Senior quarterback Mitch Kottas completed 9 of 14 passes, including a pair of touchdown throws to wide receiver Connor Sell, spanning 25 and 32 yards.
“Both of them were fake tosses,” Black said of Kottas’ scoring passes. “(Sell) had a rough week last week and he bounced back, like our entire football team.
“Mitch hit the wide-open wide receiver both times, and it was a good play for us.”
The Panthers’ defense was equally effective, continually pressuring Central quarterback Jackson Rolfs and limiting the Mustangs to only 15 net rushing yards in 22 attempts.
“It was just a great effort on both sides of the ball,” Black said. “Even when they were putting almost everyone in the box, we were still running right at them and having success.”
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
CLASS 5A DISTRICT 6
At Great Bend
Great Bend 27, Salina Central 13
Salina Central 0 7 0 6 — 13
Great Bend 7 7 6 7 — 27
Great Bend — Connor Sell 25 pass from Mitch Kottas (Mario Espino kick), 7:01
Great Bend — Josh Lopez 1 run (Espino kick), 4:36
Salina Central — Jackson Rolfs 2 run (Robl kick),
Great Bend — Sell 32 pass from Kottas (run failed)
Great Bend — Lopez 18 run (Espino kick)
Salina Central — JW Maidaner 34 pass from Rolfs (kick failed)
First Downs 10 20
Total Net yards 212 361
Rushes-yds 22-15 56-229
Passing 197 132
Comp-Att-Int 12-26-2 9-14-0
Punts-Avg. 2-39.5 1-46
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties-yds 8-47 10-75
RUSHING — Salina Central, Jackson Rolfs 15-3, Kyle McQuaige 4-3, Cllint Ryan 1-1, Matt Cookson 2-8; Great Bend, Lopez 27-127, Jeremy Sigler 13-54, Kottas 8-37, Jonathan Allende 6-6, Matt Marshall 1-5
PASSING — Salina Central , Rolfs 12-26-2 197; Great Bend, Kottas 9-13-0 132, Bryce Beck 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING — Salina Central, Cookson 7-131, Maldaner 3-44, McQuaige 2-22. Great Bend— Sell 4-82, Sigler 3-30, Lopez 1-14, Maurico Uribe 1-6
GBHS DEFENSIVE CHART
Sigler: 8 tackles (2 pass deflections); Hunter Harrison: 7 tackles; Tyler Uselton: 6 tackles; Greg Burley 5 tackles (2 pass deflections); Marshall: 4 tackles; Chris Burley 4 tackles (1 pass deflection); Jayce Brack 5 tackles (3 sacks); Stu Hogg: 4 tackles (1 sack); Chad Touslee: 3 tackles (1 tackle-for-loss); Verbeck: 3 tackles; Sell: 3 tackles; Brock Ibarra: 1 tackle (2 interceptions).