May 22, 2024

Back to work: Young Buffs open fall practice (Audio)

Garden City, Kan ( fall camp began last season, Garden City High School Football Coach Brian Hill had an air of confidence around him. After all-he had nearly 30 seniors on the roster, one of them was his first, two-year starting quarterback during his tenure. 

12 months later, the confidence is still there, but the seniors are gone. What’s left: Only 14 elder statesman and a bunch of young talent. 

“We lack experience in certain areas,” Hill said. “But that will change over the course of time.”

Remember this: if you’re searching for motivation, look no further than Hill. 

Last year before the Hays game, Hill challenged his guys-telling them if they didn’t want to buy into his program to get off the bus. Well his players did get off the bus only to ransack the Indians 35-0 in a weather-shortened affair. 

“Each team is different,” Hill said. “You have to approach each group differently.”

Speaking of different, Hill has the unenviable task of replacing record-breaking quarterback Greyson Tempel, who traded in his Buffs brown for Gorilla black at Pittsburg State. Enter three candidates: Senior Derek Hill (coach’s son), junior Dylan Darter and sophomore Jesse Nunez. As for how they did on day one: 

“Each threw the ball okay,” Hill said. “They each had their good moments. But then again they each their moments where they showed their inexperience.”

It was only three years ago that Hill made one of the biggest decisions of his coaching career. Instead of going with an older quarterback, Hill chose Tempel (then a junior) to direct the offense. The result: a 5-4 season where Garden City missed the playoffs on one of the wackiest plays in football history. But they made up for it the next year. Tempel set every school record imaginable, while leading the Buffs to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005. 

That simple reasoning would lead many to believe Hill might be leaning towards the younger Darter or Nunez. The latter a sophomore, who, by the time it’s all said and done, might be the first three-year starter in the Hill era (Cody Bernbeck-1 year; Jake Curran-1 year; Tempel-2 years). 

Whoever wins the job, they’ll have plenty of talent surrounding them to make it work. Junior Jared Koster returns to the backfield, while wide receivers Caleb Tramp and Alex Espinoza, who filled in for Tramp in the Buffaloes upset win over Hutch last season, will man the perimeter. As for that third wide out: Thomas Marquez or Akil Love could see some time. 

Keep this in mind: it could be a very interesting year in when it comes to the quarterback in the Western Athletic Conference. Every team but one (Hays) will have a new signal caller. Moreover, three teams have new coaches (Great Bend Tony Crough; Hays Bo Black; Hutch Ryan Cornelsen). District play could be even more of a wild card seeing that Dodge and Hutch are young and inexperienced while Wichita Northwest will be going through some changeover. 

All the outlook doesn’t mean much to Hill. All he cares about is production and getting better. And believe it, no matter what 22 guys Hill trots out to Olathe on September 5, they’ll be in the hunt come October and November. 

Brian Hill presser