Four-year payoff for Greyson Tempel, Buffs football. QB chosen as top 2013 area player.

12/5/2013

By KEVIN THOMPSON

By KEVIN THOMPSON

sports@gctelegram.com

Four years ago when he became a Buffalo, Greyson Tempel listened to new head football coach Brian Hill tell him and a large group of his fellow freshmen that, if they stayed with him and worked hard, they would reap great rewards.

Four years later, Tempel and 26 other seniors left the field in Derby in the state tournament semifinals with a good understanding of what he meant.

Despite a loss in that game, the Buffs finished their best season since a state title in 1999 with an 8-4 record.

One of the reasons for the Buff's success over the past two years was Tempel, voted the Telegram's All-Area football player of the year.

Along with the team's success this year came individual success for the 5-10 senior. Tempel finishes at Garden City with six single-season records.

He threw for 366 yards against Wichita Northwest and had 420 total yards against Woodward. He scored five rushing touchdowns and nine total against Liberal. He threw for 26 touchdowns and rushed for 19 during the 12-game season.

All this happened in 2013.

For his career as a Buffalo, he is first all-time in pass completions (277), passing touchdowns (39) and total touchdowns (68).

He is also second all-time in passing yards (4,066) and third in rushing yards (2,298).

Tempel has foot speed and passing accuracy, which made him a threat every time he took a snap. It also meant teams had to focus on stopping him. But in his mind, that meant he would have that many more weapons to use.

Junior Caleb Tramp and seniors Dustin Tempel and Mitchell Hernandez were hard to stop on the passing game, and sophomore Jared Koster matured as a runner, he said, which made the Buff's offense quick and deadly.

Teams couldn't just focus on stopping the quarterback because they knew the Buffaloes had weapons all over the field.

"They (opponents) had to decide what they wanted to key on," Tempel said. "Towards the end of the year, when they wanted to key on the running game, we started throwing it all over the place."

Great chemistry with his receivers helped Tempel command the aerial assault.

"I've always been able to throw the deep ball. It's my favorite pass. We like to air it out. Caleb just goes up and gets it. Dusty is so fast we can just throw it up the field more," he said.

His offensive line blocked hard all season, which meant holes were opened and time was provided. It also meant they were pretty banged up by the end of the year.

"They hung tough and gave us a lot of opportunities," Tempel said of his linemen. "That builds a lot of confidence, especially after we started rolling."

His skills as a freshman have developed in his four years under Hill, Tempel said.

"I was developing my speed. I grew a little my freshman year. And I started putting on more and more weight my sophomore through my senior year," he said. "That's what probably helped me the most."

By this season, he said, his knowledge of the game was by far the biggest change of all.

"The new offense we ran this year, my style of play — it was all more fast-paced," he said.

The Buffaloes ran a no-huddle spread offense this year, which opened more opportunities for Tramp and Tempel, his two primary receivers, which then set up the running game.

No-huddle also meant he didn't have to run to the sideline every down to get a play since the team lined up, then looked for signals from the coaching staff.

It saved a lot of wear and tear on his legs, Tempel said, which was good since he had injured his left knee early in the summer and the right knee early in the season against Wichita East.

"At the beginning of the year it felt stiff and sore but I just had to play through it," he said. "The brace hindered me a little bit, but I just had to play tough."

His first knee injury sidelined him from the team's summer camp, but it allowed him to step back and take a look at the team he would be guiding.

Tempel said he knew the Buffs were capable of going deep into the playoffs even if others outside the team did not. He saw that spark in his teammates during the summer.

The coaching staff and the team worked together to create the spirit of being Buffaloes, Tempel said. Everybody knew what it would take to go deep, and eventually even the doubting players came around, especially after the Hays win that started a 3-game win streak in which they outscored opponents 131-27.

The only slip-up after that was a loss to Maize to open district play. Tempel said it was a bad first half that did them in, but the second half was much better.

"We beat ourselves more in that game than they beat us," he said. "That's when we started. We came back that next week against Hutchinson, and that was a huge win for us."

That led into the final game of the regular season, the traditional Hatchet Game rivalry against Dodge City, with a playoff berth on the line.

Last year the Buffs gave away the game and missed the playoffs by a point. Not so this year.

"It's always a huge game. The atmosphere was crazy," he said. "After halftime, when it was 28-6, we knew we just had to go out and play smart and bring that hatchet back."

Tempel is being recruited by some Division II colleges at various positions. Kansas State and Tulsa have expressed some interest in him as an inside receiver. All the junior colleges have looked at him as a quarterback or receiver.

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Greyson Tempel

Garden City, Sr.

5-11, 175, QB

Most memorable moment: Winning the Hatchet back from Dodge City and beating Huthinson and Wichita Heights.

Favorite athlete: Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks QB).

Favorite food: Italian.

Person(s) I most admire: My parents.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M QB).

Favorite pastime: YMCA football.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Area of intended study: Business.

Honors: Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Dozie Ekweariri

Garden City, Sr.

5-9, 140, DB

Not the biggest defensive back for coach Brian Hill's Buffaloes during the 2013 season, Ekweariri was nonethless one of the most fearsome tacklers on the defensive side of the ball.

Ekweariri finished the Buffs' 8-4 season with 58 unassisted tackles, second best on the team, and assisted on 38 others. He had 11 tackles for loss, recorded one sack, forced two fumbles, recovered one of them, intercepted three passes and had nine pass breakups.

Among the season highlights for Ekweariri were game-ending interceptions against Hutchinson and Woodward, preserving victories over those teams.

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Most memorable moment: Winning the Hatchet Game against Dodge City and beating Wichita Heights in the second round of the 6A state playoffs.

Favorite athlete: Devin Gardner, Univ. of Michigan football player.

Favorite food: Lasagna.

Favorite class in school: Biology.

Person I most admire: My mom.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Barry Sanders or Ben Carson.

Favorite pastime: Playing ping-pong, hanging out with the bros.

College I plan to attend: University of Kansas.

Area of study: Human biology.

Season highlights: Beating Hays 35-0 to win WAC; defensive player of the game vs. Woodward, Okla.; Game-ending interceptions vs. Hutchinson and Woodward, Okla.

AJ Erives

Ulysses, Sr.

6-0, 245, OL

Oftentimes the football world makes heroes based on statistics.

Often overlooked are the linemen whose contributions make those statistics possible.

AJ Erives is such a player, a 6-foot, 245-pound offensive lineman who helped the Ulysses Tigers to an 8-2 season.

Big plays from players like fellow all-area teammate Ian Rudzik (1,987 yards, 26 touchdowns) are only possible when all the holes are opened for him, and Erives was one of the reasons the holes were there.

Having big brother Chase Rudzik and Erives playing the left side of the line definitely made a difference in his big season, Ian Rudzik said.

"It was a big advantage because they're so big and strong that they could open up huge holes," he said.

"AJ has always been a big kid with good feet who has been a two-year starter at left tackle for us, but this year he really did a nice job of playing physical," coach Jason Kenny said.

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Most memorable moment: Beating a team and ending their 40-game regular season winning streak.

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant.

Favorite food: Italian.

Favorite class in school: Science.

Person I most admire: My mother.

If I could meet one person, it would be: J. Cole.

Favorite pastime: Rapping with my boys, Joey Camargo and Chase Rudzik.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Montana Fuller

Garden City, Sr.

6-3, 250, OG

One of the main reasons Garden City's offense was so productive was the blocking and leadership provided by Fuller.

Fuller didn't get the benefit of the four-year Brian Hill program, but in the short time he was on the roster, he made the most of it. After transferring to Garden City from Lakin for his junior year, Fuller wrestled the last half of the 2013 season for the Buffs and established himself as one of the top 285-pounders in Class 6A.

He used some of that leverage skill and agility for his blocking, providing holes for Greyson Tempel and Jared Koster, while protecting Tempel on passing downs.

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Most memorable moment: Beating Hutchinson in districts.

Favorite athlete: Steve Mocco.

Favorite food: Italian.

Favorite class in school: College English.

Person(s) I most admire: My parents.

Favorite pastime: Playing rec football.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Area of intended study at college: Business.

Honors: First-team all-WAC, Maize offensive player of the game. Having 19 knockdowns against Liberal.

Warren Kropp,

Scott City, Sr.

6-0, 190, TE/DE

Warren Kropp got a chance to play on a team that won a state title last year and got to the semifinals this year.

He's experienced success on teams that went 25-2 in that time span.

He was a 2012 and 2013 first-team all-league defensive end and added tight end this year.

"He is a very tough-minded, physical player," coach Glenn O'Neil said. "He led by example, played through injuries and expected his teammates to give the same type of effort that he did, a true leader by example."

This season the senior tight end caught 12 passes for 188 yards (15.7 yards per catch). He also scored a touchdown on the only rush he had all season. As a defensive end, Kropp had 92 total tackles, 42 of them solo. Nineteen of his tackles were for losses, totaling 67 yards. He also forced four fumbles (recovering one) and had five sacks.

Add to that 88 tackles last year (37 solo, 51 assists) and 19 (9 and 10) as a sophomore, and that adds up to 199 total tackles in three seasons on successful Beaver squads.

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Most memorable moment: Winning the Phillipsburg and Conway Springs games. We really came together and proved to people we were not a joke.

Favorite athlete: Dan Gable.

Favorite food: Chicken-fried steak.

Favorite class in school: Biology.

Person I most admire: My father.

If I could meet one person, it would be: God.

Favorite pastimes: Hunting, fishing, hanging out with friends.

College I plan to attend: Colby Community College, then Wichita State University.

Area of study at college: Physical therapy.

Gage McAtee

Lakin, Sr.

5-9, 175 RB/LB/KR

When opposing coaches schemed to play Lakin, they always had one person in particular to target.

Gage McAtee, or "Mr. Versatile," was all-everything for the Broncs. The senior running back, defensive linebacker and special teams returner, had an individual season that would be the total for many teams.

The senior speedster accounted for 2,254 all-purpose yards and scored 22 touchdowns his final year as a Bronc. He carried the ball 151 times for 1,402 yards. That works out to more than 9 yards per carry and 140 yards per game. As a rusher, he scored 15 TDs. As a punt and kickoff returner, McAtee racked up 660 yards and four scores. He also caught three touchdown passes. On defense, McAtee had 35 solo tackles, 47 assists and two interceptions.

"Gage is one of the most talented and complete football players I have had the pleasure to coach," Lakin coach Jeff Fuss said.

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Most memorable moment: Beating Cimarron in district play.

Favorite athlete: Adrian Peterson.

Favorite food: Steak.

Favorite class in school: Weights.

Person I most admire: My brother Reed.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Adrian Peterson.

Favorite pastime: Playing football at the park with my older brother's friends.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Area of study at college: Wildlife management.

Blake Richmeier

Holcomb, Jr.

6-2, 215 RB/LB

"When you look at Blake, you think football player."

That's how Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson describes his leading running back, Blake Richmeier.

The junior rushed for 507 yards and five touchdowns and was second on the team in tackles with 105 as a linebacker.

He was one of three returning players from a 2012 squad that got to the second round of the state playoffs, which made him one of the leaders of a younger 2013 Longhorns team that got that far once again.

"He is a big, strong kid that likes to play physical, the way the game is meant to be played," Johnson said.

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Most memorable moment: Beating Meade by 1 point in the opening game.

Favorite athlete: Collin Klein.

Favorite food: Oreos and milk.

Favorite class in school: Strength and conditioning.

Person I most admire: My dad and my grandpa.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Larry Bird.

Favorite pastime: Hanging out with family and friends.

Ian Rudzik

Ulysses, So.

6-2, 225, RB/LB

He is only a sophomore, but No. 33 of Ulysses has already built a reputation of being the best ball carrier in the area.

This past season, a healthy Rudzik helped power the Tigers to an 8-2 record.

The running back ran the ball 206 times for 1,987 yards. That's 9.65 yards a carry, or 198.7 yards a game, which included 26 touchdowns.

The highlight of the season (and probably of his short high school career) occurred in the Goodland game.

Of the team's 11 touchdowns, in a 75-34 win, Rudzik scored seven, a personal best. He also rushed for 467 yards (another personal best) on just 26 carries (17.96 yards per carry).

Last year he made a name for himself as an imposing freshman.

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Most memorable moment: Getting personal records in yards and touchdowns in the Goodland game.

Favorite athlete: Rob Gronkowski.

Favorite food: Japanese.

Favorite class in school: Biology.

Person I most admire: My father.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Tom Brady.

Favorite pastime: Hunting.

Dustin Tempel

Garden City, Sr.

5-11, 170, WR/DB

One can only imagine that after spending your entire lifetime growing up as one of a set of triplets, that it should be no surprise that Dustin Tempel knows all about what his brother Greyson might be thinking.

That could explain how the brothers became the most dynamic and productive quarterback-wide receiver combination in Garden City High School history.

Dustin was one of Greyson's two favorite receivers this season, catching a career-high 58 passes for 973 yards and just missing that coveted 1,000-yard mark that would have given the Buffs two such wideouts this year. He caught nine touchdown passes, with his longest reception being 58 yards.

Dustin also leaves the Buffs as the all-time leader in receptions (97) and all-time receiving yards (1,565).

Defensively, Tempel recorded 24 solo tackles and 13 assisted. He had two tackles for losses while recovering one fumble and breaking up 15 passes.

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Most memorable moment: Getting the Hatchet back from Dodge City.

Favorite athlete: Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings RB).

Favorite food: Spaghetti.

Favorite class in school: English.

Person I most admire: My father.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos QB).

Favorite pastime: Playing peewee football with my friends.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Area of study: Business.

Honors: 1st team all-WAC wide receiver and set four school records; shutting out Hays; beating Hutchinson and Wichita Heights.

Caleb Tramp

Garden City, Jr.

6-5, 205, WR

Tramp became one of the go-to receivers for Greyson Tempel during the Buffaloes' march to the Class 6A semifinals.

The 6-5, 205-pound junior utilized his height and soft hands to be on the receiving end of 55 passes from Greyson Tempel, accounting for 1,102 yards (20.0 avg.), a school record 12 touchdowns and putting him in fourth place on the GCHS all-time receiving list in just one season. His longest reception of the season was 69 yards. His per game average was 106.2 yards.

He caught the game-winning touchdown against Wichita Northwest in the final minute to advance the team to the second round of the 6A playoffs.

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Most memorable moment: Going against Wichita Northwest in the first round of the playoffs and getting the game-winning touchdown.

Favorite athlete: Kyrie Irving, Michael Jordan or Calvin Johnson.

Favorite food: Mashed potatoes and pizza.

Favorite class in school: Physics.

Person I most admire: My mom.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Michael Jordan.

Favorite pastime: Playing basketball.

Area of study at college: Engineering.

Honors: All-WAC wide receiver.

Heath Tucker

Holcomb, Sr.

6-3, 175 QB/DB

For Holcomb's Heath Tucker, high school football was a wild, but rewarding ride.

Coming into a starting position as a freshman receiver, Tucker was one of the most feared receivers in the area for the next two seasons, until hip surgery sidelined him midway through his junior year.

This year, the speedy Tucker, fully healthy, started at quarterback and defensive back, as well as handling most of the punts, kickoffs and kickoff returns.

Coach Jerry Johnson said of his versatile player, "Heath is one of the best football players that I have ever coached. He is a difference maker on both sides of the ball."

Tucker completed 63 of 110 passes (57.3 percent) for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing, with 1,040 yards on 161 carries (6.46 yards per carry) and 14 TDs, including a long run of 86 yards. Defensively, he was second on the team with 50 solo tackles and third with 20 assists. He also tied for interceptions with two.

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Most memorable moment: Making it as far as last year's team when nobody thought we could.

Favorite athlete: Denard Robinson, Johnny Manziel.

Favorite food: Mom's biscuits and gravy.

Favorite class in school: Advanced PE.

Person I most admire: Older brother Scott.

If I could meet one person, it would be: Kirk Hinrich.

Favorite pastime: Hanging out with loved ones.

College I plan to attend: Undecided.

Area of study at college: Engineering.

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