By BRETT MARSHALL
Three weeks into the 2010 prep football season and both Greeley County coach Greg Brown and Dighton coach Faron Kraft are pleased with the performance of their respective team's offenses.
Defense? Now there's another story.
"We're having a lot of troubles defensively with the adjustment from 11 to 8-man football," Kraft said of his Dighton group, which had played in recent years as a combined team with Ness City before making the switch this season. "Offensively, so far, it's been pretty good."
The 3-0 Hornets travel to Tribune on Friday night for a kickoff between two schools that used to compete in the Western Kansas Education Association and have not met in more than half a decade.
"Everyone around here, especially the old-timers, are talking about the game," Kraft said of the excitement leading up to this week's contest. "We're just glad to have people excited about football in Dighton and supporting the Hornets."
The Hornets have rolled up 144 points in their three victories against Triplains/Brewster (54-0), Golden Plains (40-36) and Weskan (50-12). Junior running back Guy Fullmer is averaging just more than 200 yards rushing.
"Their speed to get to the corners is really outstanding," Brown said of the Hornets. "We've not been very good defensively, so there's a real challenge for us."
In addition to Fullmer, Kraft will go to senior C.J. Shafer, who converted from wide receiver.
The pace of the 8-man game has been the biggest adjustment for both Kraft and his players.
"It's all about getting to the edge and then get going," Kraft said. "Sometimes on defense we've been overrunning plays. Getting our defense to where we want is the big thing. But we've come light years from week one, but then we've not seen anybody like Greeley County, either."
In the host Jackrabbits, the Hornets' biggest test will be to find a way to slow down quarterback Jonathan Miller. The senior, a member of The Telegram's All-Area team in 2009, is averaging more than 200 yards rushing and 100 yards passing in helping the Jackrabbits to a 2-1 record.
Since their season-opener, a surprising 44-18 loss to Hoxie, the Jackrabbits have outraced Moscow 38-28 and then erupted for a 72-38 victory over Golden Plains.
"Offensively, we're in pretty good shape, but defensively, we're struggling," Brown said. "We're short on speed and getting to cover spots, so we've got to get that part of their offense shut down. Their speed is a big worry."
Brown has added in fullback Kyler Wineinger, a 190-pound senior, to give the Jackrabbits an inside running threat to take some pressure off Miller. Wineinger responded with 140 yards in last week's victory.
"We just want to keep some momentum going because after this it's district games the rest of the season," Brown said.
Kraft, too, said containing Greeley County's offense would be the key to the game.
"Miller is phenomenal," Kraft said of the Jackrabbits' quarterback. "They're well-coached, and we'll have our hands full."
For the Hornets, though, this season has been about re-establishing its identity in football.
"Everything is back to Dighton and people are talking that up a lot," Kraft said. "We're just glad everyone in the community can take pride in what the kids are doing."