Garden City (7-3) vs. Wichita Heights (7-3)-pregame 6:30 p.m.; kickoff 7 p.m.
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There wasn’t much left in the tank for Garden City following Friday’s, heartbreaking, come-from-behind win over Wichita Northwest. And who could blame them.
Head Coach Brian Hill’s postgame interview was a mere blur for a guy who just picked up his second career postseason victory. It was one of those surreal moments; kind of like when you’re tired and driving late at night and don’t remember the last 50 miles of your trip.
“It doesn’t matter the situation, these seniors have responded all year long,” Hill said following his team’s triumph. “I am so proud of these guys.”
By Thursday, the Buffs playoff win was a distant memory; their focus now firmly on Wichita Heights, a team that has played in three out of the last four state championship games.
“I want your full attention to detail tomorrow night,” Hill told his team after Thursday’s practice. “The ride doesn’t end here. I need everything you guys have.”
And they’ll need everything tonight, especially on defense. Linebacker Kelton Uthe is back after missing last week’s game for personal matters. He hopes to plug the middle of the Buffs front seven that leaked a little oil last week-surrendering 316 rushing yards to the Grizzlies.
The senior and company will be facing a more potent ground attack this week, as the Falcons and their running-back-by committee, triple-option offense roll into Buffalo Stadium Friday night.
“They’re so explosive,” Hill said. “They’ve got so many different guys that can carry the ball and that are so dangerous.”
First there’s slot back Tre King, who’s rebounded tremendously after breaking his ankle last year. The sophomore has rushed for nearly 750 yards and eight touchdowns. But he’s just one of a stable of backs that have sliced through opposing defenses to the tune of 315 yards per game. In fact, six different ball carriers have rushed the ball 40 times or more.
Then there’s old reliable Forlanda Parker at quarterback. And although, the threat of Heights throwing the ball is minimal at best (Averaging only 3.5 attempts per game), the senior is the orchestrator of first-year Head Coach Terry Harrison’s flex-bone attack.
And the Falcon defense is just as scary-allowing a minuscule 17 points and 220 yards per game.
All the numbers say Garden City is the underdog in this one, and Hill is fine with that.
“That’s okay by me,” Hill said. “We don’t mind flying underneath the radar by any stretch.”
As for Harrison-he’s gotten the message regarding who his team needs to stop tonight.
“Greyson Tempel is the real deal,” Harrison said. “He reminds you a lot of Johnny Manziel-running the football and throwing it all over the yard.”
Hmm, that’s the second time this season an opposing coach has compared Tempel to the the Texas A&M quarterback. Is there a Heisman in his future? Perhaps-but the senior, record-breaking quarterback will settle for a gold ball instead.