Buster QBs a question
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Coming off a devastating loss to Butler in the season's biggest game to date, head coach Matt Miller is not worried about his Garden City Community College football team's ability to bounce back for the Busters' homecoming contest against Highland on Saturday.
"There hasn't been any hangover from the Butler game," the first-year coach said. "Obviously, disappointment, but again, sometimes you can steer that in the right direction and it can turn out to be a positive."
However, Miller is worried about his quarterback play, and more specifically, who will be his quarterback come 7 p.m. on Saturday at Buffalo Stadium.
After the loss to Butler, in which three Buster passers combined to go 16-of-52 for 146 yards, a touchdown and a pick, Miller said he was searching for more consistent play from the position.
After Wednesday's practice, Miller said one of his top two — freshman Akeem Jones and sophomore Jake Curran — had a slight lead, but he wasn't letting on which one.
"We're working both of them (at practice)," he said. "I can't tell you who I'm going with. It's starting to teeter one way, but we'll see."
If pattern holds, Jones, who has started every game he has been healthy this season, will be under center on Saturday. Jones is completing 53 percent (92 of 175) of his passes so far, while throwing 11 touchdowns and six picks. Meanwhile, Curran is 17-of-44 passing with two touchdowns and one interception in limited action.
The duo battled for the starting spot in the preseason. Jones won it and seemed to flourish early before running into trouble against Hutchinson — four picks — and Butler.
While the decision at quarterback makes Miller's job a little more difficult, it also creates a game-planning dilemma for Highland head coach Ryan Held, whose Scotties are 3-2 in the conference and 4-3 overall.
"It's kind of been an up and down season for us," the second-year coach said. "We've had some really good moments and some moments we'd like to forget."
One of those really good moments was the Scotties' 23-21 win at national power Butler on Sept. 21. The Scottie defense held the Grizzlies to just 241 yards and 14 first downs, while forcing four turnovers.
The defense was stout again in last week's 21-14 win over Coffeyville. The Ravens could only muster 309 yards, most of which came in the second half as Highland led 21-0 after the first 30 minutes. However, one of the moments that Held would like to forget came in between the Butler and Coffeyville games. Hutchinson racked up 494 yards and 27 first downs against Highland, while the Blue Dragons picked off three Highland passes in a 36-20 Scottie loss.
Against Garden City, Held has to prepare for two different quarterbacks. Though, he says, the basics are the same.
"You look at the concepts (the Busters) want to run in general, it's very similar," he said. "They do a few different things with each QB, but the plan is the same. They've got enough playmakers around them, they just need a guy to deliver the ball to them, which they've done at times."
"Tyreek Hill is special," Held continued. "He has another gear that not many other persons on the planet have."
On offense, Highland runs an air raid style, relying on quarterback Brandon Bergeron, who leads the conference in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He has thrown for 1,597 yards and 14 scores, while completing 70 percent of his passes (151 of 215).
"He's a great player," Held said of his freshman signal caller. "He really is. He's smart, intelligent — he has Joe Montana qualities. He has the ability to stay in the pocket for that half-second longer and deliver the ball accurately."
Bergeron spreads the ball around amongst his receivers — nine Scotties have double digit receptions and five have more than 20, while none have more than 31. Sophomore receiver Melvin McAdams leads the way with 31 catches and 383 yards.
Facing the pass-heavy Highland offense, it's a bad week for the Buster defense to be without one of their two best cornerbacks, Tim Hill, who will serve a one-game suspension for targeting during the Butler game. Freshman Eric Wester, who has seen extended playing time in the last few games, will take Hill's spot opposite freshman Wonderful Terry.
The Busters will also be short-handed on offense as second-leading rusher Matt McDonald is out for the year after breaking his forearm against Butler and undergoing season-ending surgery on Monday. Miller said the surgery was successful and McDonald will be ready to go by next season. However, for now, it depletes the Buster backfield.
Miller will lean on Mike Gerst, who was also knocked out of the Butler game early, but is "100 percent" heading into Saturday, Farres James, and even fullback Brady Bean, who had several carries against Butler.
Freshman receiver Brandon Snell, who also was hurt for an extended period of time against Butler, should also return "100 percent" healthy for Highland.
"We've just been a bit off on offense," Miller said about his mentally and physically stalled offense. "Hopefully this week, we can get it together."
Know the foe
Who: Highland C.C. at Garden City C.C.
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Buffalo Stadium, Garden City High School
Last Meeting: 2012, Garden City 28, Highland 17
Series Record: Garden City 25-4
Streak: Garden City has won the last two meetings
First Meeting: 1959, Garden City 26-8
Largest Margin of victory: 1999, Garden City 75, Highland 7
Garden City (4-2, 2-2)
League: Jayhawk Conference
Mascot: Broncbusters (Brown and White)
Coach: Matt Miller, (1st year)
Probable Starting Lineup:
T--Dontavious Blair, 6-7, 275, So.; Ryan Johnson, 6-5, 330, So.
G--Mitch Moore, 6-2, 275, Fr.; Colby Hamel, 6-3, 305, So.
C--Jason Carreon, 6-2, 295, So.
TE--Alan Kramer, 6-2, 215, So.
WR--Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.; Brandon Snell, 6-1, 205, Fr.
HB--Tyreek Hill, 5-9, 190, So.; Mike Gerst, 5-11, 205, So.
QB--Akeem Jones, 6-3, 207, Fr. or Jake Curran, 6-3, 200, So.
PK--Tyler Peterson, 5-11, 180, So.
E--Richard Obi, 6-3, 255, So.; Ralphael Bernard, 6-1, 290, So.
N--Dondre Elvoid, 6-4, 315, Fr.
MLB--Errol Clarke, 6-3, 240, Fr.; D'vonta Derricott, 6-2, 235, So.
OLB--Dalton Gantz, 6-0, 210, Fr.; Darius Jones, 6-2, 230, So.
CB--Wonderful Terry, 5-10, 180, So.; Eric Wester, 5-11, 190, Fr.
S--Sam Green, 6-2, 210, Fr.; Makail Grace, 6-3, 205, Fr.
P--Tyler Peterson, 5-11, 180, So.
KR--Tyreek Hill, 5-9, 190, So.; Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.
PR--Nile Daniel, 6-2, 200, So.
Aug. 24--INDEPENDENCE, W 67-0*
Aug. 31--at Cisco, Texas, W 35-21
Sept. 7--at Hutchinson, L 34-24*
Sept. 21--AIR FORCE PREP, W 35-34
Sept. 28--at Fort Scott, W 33-14*
Oct. 5--BUTLER, L 20-10*
Oct. 19--at Dodge City*
*--Denotes Jayhawk Conference game
Highland (3-2, 4-3)
League: Jayhawk Conference
Mascot: Scotties (Navy and Gold)
Coach: Ryan Held (2nd year, 6-10)
Probable Starting Lineup:
T--Jeff Travillion, 6-3, 300, So.; Tanner Myers, 6-6, 285, Fr.
G--Avery Richard, 6-2, 275, So.; Brandon Glover, 6-4, 315, Fr.
C--Andrew Nichols, 6-5, 305, Fr.
TE--Brennan Boland, 6-5, 255, So.
WR--Austin Moses, 6-1, 190, Fr.; Melvin McAdams, 5-7, 160, So.; Desmond McGee, 5-10, 190, So.
RB--Brandon Peters, 6-2, 207, Fr.
QB--Brandon Bergeron, 6-2, 200, Fr.
PK--Josh Pasley, 5-11, 210, Fr.
E--Brandon Thorpe, 6-5, 270, So.; Joe Keels, 6-4, 270, So.
DT--Marcus Smith, 6-3, 305, So.
NT--Glenn Antoine, 6-2, 325, So.
OLB--Taylor Shaffer, 6-0, 225, So.
MLB--Marlon Williams, 6-0, 245, So.
Ro--Brandon Lockwood, 6-0, 205, So.
CB--Contereze Pierce, 5-9, 180, So.; Jesse Mack, 6-0, 180, Fr.
S--Mike Brown, 6-0, 195, So.; Pat Martin, 6-10, 210, So.
P--Trey Geiger, 5-11, 180, Fr.
Aug. 24--Fort Scott, W 48-31*
Aug. 31--NORTHEASTERN OKLA. A M, L 47-14
Sept. 7--DODGE CITY, L 41-35*
Sept. 15--MIDLAND LUTHERAN, W 40-7
Sept. 21--Butler, W 23-21*
Sept. 28--Hutchinson, L 36-20*
Oct. 5--COFFEYVILLE, W 21-14*
Oct. 12--Garden City*