Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com) – As September draws closer, that means one thing in the state of Kansas, the high school football season is back and for the Garden City Buffaloes, that means it’s time to get back to work.
After a (5-4) season that saw many ups and downs, like beating Hays on the road in the midst of a 4-game winning streak or losing to rival Dodge City late after leading 21-6 at halftime. This season the Buffaloes are looking for a consistency that will hopefully, come October set themselves up for a home playoff game and beyond.
Still some time before then, and winning takes time. With the Buffaloes now in their 2nd season of their “Flexbone” offense, coach Brian Hill believes that the offense and its execution could be the difference maker early on for the team.
“Offensively we are a lot farther ahead than we were a year ago so these kids being in the system really have a much better idea of what’s going on, it’s all about the assignments and seeing what in front we need to make sure we are blocking the right guy, Caleb (Wiese) has much better control of what’s going on up front and we are much better upfront than a year ago.”
On the defensive side of the ball, things will be a bit more trial by error as the Buffaloes are replacing nine starters and that alone is no easy task, but coach Hill thinks with experience the defense will start to take shape.
“Coach Reich has done a great job trying to fit guys in there but we just need to get guys some more experience and I think that side of the ball will really start to come along… We just need more guys to get in the fire,” Hill said.
Anytime you lose nine starters to graduation that means there will be new faces needing to make an impact to have success early on. On offense for the Buffaloes, Senior wide receiver Javier Arzate has made an impact in camp so far. Arzate mainly played on special teams last year but Coach Hill said he’s learned the WR position and he has been “a whole new player” in camp. Coach Hill also said Arzate should give Garden City more chances to spread the field throwing the football.
Defensively, a newcomer to keep an eye on is senior defensive end Rex Crotts, an emotional leader whose season was cut short last year to an illness. Crotts was voted a team captain and will be a workhorse up front for the defense. “He’s a guy I’m really excited to see him play and I can’t wait for him to finally get his shot,” Hill added
SR: QB, DB, Caleb Wiese – Entering his 4th season with starting experience Weise will look to lead the Flexbone in its second season to a new level, as well as help lead on defense. Weise is the leading returning tackler with 80 tackles from a season ago and a proven ball hawk with 3 interceptions.
SR: RB, Zack Keosengphet – Anytime you’re a run-heavy team most of the offensive production will lean on the running back. 1st team WAC selection Keosengphet answered the call last season with nearly 700 yards with 9 touchdowns and a sweet 5.8 yards per carry average. For the Buffs to have success this season they will need those numbers again and more from the senior.
SR: WR, Jerry Arteaga – Arteaga lead the receiving group with 211 yards and 3 TDs a year ago for Garden City. If you’re an opponent you can’t leave him in open space. The speed machine was consistently posting 4.40 40 times this season across summer camps. He will be a weapon for the Buffs downfield.
Key Game – vs. Dodge City @ Riverfront Stadium in Wichita – Oct. 15th at 6 pm
No bigger game for the Buffs than the Hatchet game and with a new twist this season. Garden City will be looking to avenge last season’s loss at home and what better way to do it than at Riverfront Stadium in downtown Wichita? With both teams deep into their schedule and presumably by then a better look at the WAC championship picture. This game could have conference championship implications on the line.
Keys to Success
Coach Brian Hill was very honest when asked what the most important thing for a successful season would be for his squad. “Health,” he said immediately, and for the Buffaloes that will be the case no doubt. In the second year of a new offense, the more reps his players get the better the offense will progress.
If the team holds up and by the time the first round of playoffs rolls around on October 28th we could be looking back on a vast system improvement offensively that could ignite the team to improve on the 5-4 record from a season ago. Only time will tell but once again the framework has been set for what should be another great season of football in Garden City.
Garden City will kick off their season on September 2nd vs. Wichita Heights at 7 pm.
The Buffaloes can be heard all season long on 99.9 The Rock. Baylen Hite and Aaron Elam will be on the call with Dalton Janousek on the sidelines.