By BRETT MARSHALL
If recent history is any indication, Friday night's 7 p.m. game between Hays High and Garden City should be a nail-biter.
Records compiled by both The Garden City Telegram and Hays Daily News indicate that the teams have played 56 games, with each winning 28 times.
Since 2005, there have been four games decided by three points or less, and only two have been won by more than 10 points. So, guess what might transpire?
Friday's kickoff at Lewis Field Stadium promises to be another hard-fought, knockdown, dragout battle between the two Western Athletic Conference schools.
Hays comes in unbeaten in its first three games, while the Buffaloes are reeling after their 28-25 home loss to Great Bend that dropped them to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the WAC.
A year go, the Indians survived with a 29-21 win at Buffalo Stadium, while two years ago the Buffs got a dramatic 22-yard field goal from Carlos Chavez with just over two minutes left for a 24-21 triumph.
"I'd like to see a repeat of that," GCHS coach Brian Hill said of the 2011 game in Hays. "I'd love to have the same situation and have Ismael (Hernandez) go out there and kick the game-winner. I've got confidence in him to do the exact same thing."
It seems like no matter what the situation, Hill and the Buffs have been in a similar situation in previous seasons and this time is no different — a tough loss to Great Bend at home and now go on the road to an unbeaten Hays squad.
"We've just got to come back, be well prepared, and go play physical football and play smart," Hill said. "The Great Bend loss was a tough one, and if nothing else, losing gets their attention. Now they've got something to prove because nobody is slapping them on the back telling them how good they are. The kids understand they let their guard down, especially early in the Great Bend game (down 21-3 early second quarter). They've listened to what we've said. They're fully committed and I expect them to be ready."
Hays coach Ryan Cornelsen expects the same thing.
"With Garden, I think it will be the typical hard-fought game, and I think it will be close," Cornelsen said. "By far, it will be the first time we've played a team that has a significant size advantage against us. That's a major item to overcome."
Cornelsen says he sees much of the same challenges as he did a year ago with quarterback Greyson Tempel at the helm of a Buffs' offense that is averaging 29 points and 413 yards a game. The Indians also have a potent offense, but is ground-oriented, averaging 285.3 yards.
"They've got a great quarterback with two receivers who can make plays so that makes them a deadly threat," Cornelsen said of Garden City's offense. "Garden's defense will put one more guy in the box and put pressure on you and that's what we'll have to counter."
Cornelsen said his team's inexperienced defense has shown signs of improvement, but has not done so on a consistent basis. The concern rests with the fact that the Indians are giving up 25.6 points and 416.6 yards, the highest mark in the WAC (Garden yields 408.6).
"We've played a couple of spread offenses that have put a lot of points on the board, so the biggest thing for us is to get our defense off the field," Cornelsen said. "We'll run a little bit of the spread, but when we've needed to, we've gone back to our bread-and-butter running game. That's what's going to get us to where we want to be."
It was not lost on the Hays coach that Great Bend dominated the clock in its win over the Buffs, controlling the game by more than a 3-1 margin (37:10 to 10:50).
"Great Bend did it in a different style than we do," Cornelsen said. "We hope to be able to run it, and move the chains."
For Cornelsen, much of the way the game may play out rests on the knee and toe of senior fullback Preston Weigel, who injured his knee and has turf toe.
"It will be a game-time decision," Cornelsen said of the 205-pound Weigel, the team's leading rusher with 439 yards (146.3 average) and also tops in the WAC. "We're happy to be 3-0, but we have to make sure we continue to get better."
Even without Weigel, the Indians have a stout running game with junior quarterback Alex Delton averaging 90 yards and tailback Ty Whittington just under 50 yards per game.
"He's a true dual-threat and he's polished enough that he can hurt you in multiple ways," Hill said of Delton. "They've got an explosive offense and they're well-coached."
Hill likes the way his team has responded during practice this week.
"Now they've got something to prove," Hill said of the Buffs. "That is motivation itself."
Series notes: The first recorded game between the two schools was in 1947, a 21-7 win for Hays. Since then, the teams have battled back and forth through the years. Garden City's biggest margin came in 1990 when the Buffs won 55-7, while Hays' most lopsided victory came in 1969 (60-28), which is still the highest scoring game between the two schools. Each team has posted 1-point victories, Hays on three occasions (1954, 7-6), 2001 (15-14) and 2009 (17-16), while Garden's came in 1972 (22-21) in overtime. Each team has shut out the other on six occasions — the most recent an 18-0 win for Hays in 2005, while Garden's last shutout came in 2002 (34-0).
Know the Foe
What: Garden City at Hays High
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Lewis Field, Hays
Last Meeting: 2012, Hays 29-21 at Buffalo Stadium.
Last Game in Hays: 2011, Garden City, 24-21.
Series Record (History incomplete): Tied at 28-28.
First recorded meeting: 1947, Hays 21-7.
Biggest margin of victory: Hays 32 (60-28, 1969); Garden City 48 (55-7, 1990)
Smallest margin of victory: 1 by both teams--Hays 7-6 (1954), 15-14 (2001), 17-16 (2009); Garden City 22-21, OT (1972).
Mascot: Buffaloes (Brown & White)
Class: Kansas 6A, District 8 (Maize, Hutchinson, Dodge City)
League: Western Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Brian Hill (4th year, 18-14, .563)
Projected Starting Lineup
WR--Dusty Tempel, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Mitchell Hernandez, 5-8, 160, Sr.; Caleb Tramp, 6-5, 205, Jr.
T--Alex Frey, 6-4, 290, So.; Alex Ortiz, 6-3, 285, Jr.
G--Montana Fuller, 6-3, 250, Sr.; Cesar Felix, 5-8, 240, Sr.
C--Humberto Perez, 6-0, 230, Jr.
QB--Greyson Tempel, 5-11, 175, Sr.
TB--Jared Koster, 5-11, 155, So.
FB--Clay Woydziak, 5-10, 175, Sr.
PK--Ismael Hernandez, 5-7, 140, Sr.
T--James Nguyen, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Quinton Mead, 5-11, 220, Sr.
E--Cody Worden, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Andrew Brom, 5-8, 170, Sr.
LB--Trenton Chiddix, 5-8, 170, Jr.; Kelton Uthe, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Nalen Rincones, 5-10, 180, So.
CB--Alex Espinosa, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Dusty Tempel, 5-10, 170, Sr.
S--Emilio Parr, 6-2, 175, Sr.; Dozie Ekweariri, 5-9, 140, Sr.
P--Mitchell Hernandez, 5-8, 160, Sr.
Sept. 6--at Bixby, Okla., L 32-27 (0-1)
Sept. 13--WOODWARD, OKLA., W 35-34 (1-1)
Sept. 20--GREAT BEND*, L 28-25
Sept. 27--at Hays*
Oct. 4--at Liberal*
Oct. 11--WICHITA EAST
Oct. 18--at Maize#
Nov. 1--DODGE CITY*#
*-Indicates WAC game; #-Indicates Class 6A district game.
Mascot: Indians (Maroon and Gold)
Class: Kansas 5A, District (Great Bend, Salina South, Salina Central)
League: Western Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Ryan Cornelsen (5th year at HHS, 32-8, .800; 11th year overall, 85-22, .794)
Projected Starting Lineup
WR--Hayden Kreutzer, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Lane Clark, 6-0, 160, Sr.
T--Brandon Hardwick, 6-3, 216, Jr.; Kenny Rounkles, 6-4, 210, Sr.
G--Craig Dreiling, 5-7, 249, Jr.; Trenton Henningsen, 6-0, 228, Jr.
C--Braydon Delzeit, 5-11, 219, So.
TE--Brady Werth, 6-7, 213, Jr.
QB--Alex Delton, 6-0, 188, Jr.
RB--Preston Weigel, 5-11, 205, Sr.; Ty Whittington, 6-3, 207, Sr.
PK--Lane Clark, 6-0, 160, Sr.
DL--Kenny Rounkles, 6-4, 210, Sr.; Craig Dreiling, 5-7, 249, Jr.; Cristobal Guzman, 5-8, 251, Sr.; Ty Whittington, 6-3, 207, Sr.
LB--Brandon Hardwick, 6-3, 216, Jr.; Ethan Deterding, 6-0, 182, Jr.; Connor Rule, 5-11, 186, So.
DB--Adam Klaus, 5-9, 149, Jr.; Hayden Kreutzer, 5-10, 160, Jr.; Brenden Ibarra, 5-9, 138, Jr.; Clayton Riedel, 6-5, 190, Sr.
P--Kiowa Higdon, 6-0, 174, Sr.
Sept. 6--JUNCTION CITY, W 27-22
Sept. 13--MCPHERSON, W 37-23
Sept. 20--at Liberal, W 52-38
Sept. 27--GARDEN CITY
Oct. 4--at Wichita South
Oct. 11--at Dodge City
Oct. 18--GREAT BEND
Oct. 25--at Salina South
Nov. 1--SALINA CENTRAL