June 23, 2024

Buffaloes Football Faces Former Assistant in 2023 Season Opener

Photo Credits: Adam Shrimplin, Garden City

GARDEN CITY, KS. – Head Coach Brian Hill would practically have to drag Dominick Dingle out of Garden City High School after practice somedays. His infectious attitude and passion to turning players into better men on and off the field would have Hill remind his assistant coach that work days eventually do come to an end.

When Dingle was offered the head coaching position at Wichita Heights, Hill told the Falcons’ athletic staff if they didn’t hire them, they would regret it.

Two years later, the two are slated for a rematch. The Garden City Buffaloes open their 2023 season in Wichita on Friday against the Wichita Heights Falcons.

Last season’s game was described as “awkward” for Hill, facing a former assistant for the first time in his GCHS coaching tenure. Hill’s going into his 14th season at the helm for the Buffs, but had coached and mentored Dingle since his playing career at Garden City Community College.

“I’ve known him since he was 18 years old. Seeing him grow up as a young man, a husband, a father, a mentor of young men, you’re not going to find a better guy,” Hill said. “He was going to be a head coach somewhere.”

Last year, the Buffaloes got the better of the Falcons with a 36-26 win. It was a tightly-knitted game throughout, with Garden City scoring two defensive touchdowns, including a fumble recovery from returning linebacker Jesus Rodriguez.

The Buffaloes already have faced adversity this season, playing against Heights in last week’s Wichita Jamboree. Hill also said that he’s thrown more at this unit than he has at past team’s at this time, but they’ve handled it exceptionally well.

“When you get out in a game and things aren’t going the way you want to, it was the tough thing three years ago,” Hill said. “We can communicate while kids are in the huddle, and they can make adjustments between plays. When you can do that, you have the chance to be really good.”

The Buffaloes switched their system from a spread offense to the triple option three years back, and it’s paid off. Garden City finished last season with a 6-2 regular season, cementing themselves as one of the top teams in the Western Athletic Conference.

There’s a lot of transition from last season’s team, with new quarterback Ethan Gomez getting the start after Caleb Wiese graduated. Gomez learned a lot of leadership on and off the field from Wiese, but feels he brings a new wrinkle to this offense.

“Even though I’m smaller… I think I can throw passes a little better,” Gomez said. “I think my deep ball can be a lot better, too.”

Wide receiver Emilio Zundt backed that up earlier this week, claiming his chemistry with Gomez has been phenomenal throughout camp. For Hill, it’s all about controlling the controllable to manage the first game under the lights.

“The hardest thing in week one is not to beat yourself with penalties and turnovers,” Hill said. “For 14 years, that’s been week one. Usually, the team that takes care of those things has the best chance to win.”

All the action begins on KWKR 99.9 “The Rock” at 5:30 on Buffs Game Day with Aaron Elam. Live coverage from Wichita-Heights Stadium begins at 6:30 P.M. with the American Implement Pregame Show. Kickoff between the Buffaloes and Falcons is slated for 7:00 P.M.