Apaches, suspensions present challenges for Garden City in bowl game.
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
The Garden City Community College football team has a lot to overcome on Sunday if they want to come out on top of the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl against Tyler Junior College.
The Broncbusters, who went 2-7 during the regular season — including three forfeits of what were wins due to the use of ineligible players — will be without their head coach, Matt Miller, on the sideline as he serves a one-game suspension. They'll be without perhaps their best player — certainly their best defender — in linebacker D'vonta Derricott, who also will be serving a one-game suspension.
The Busters will be trying to overcome a short preparation period for the game due to learning of the bowl bid later than usual and having assumed they would not be going to any bowl with their 2-7 record.
They'll also be trying to win a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1995-96.
But the biggest obstacle will almost certainly be their opponent for the 1 p.m. kickoff at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
"They're definitely going to present some problems," Miller said of Tyler in a phone interview on Thursday as the team made the drive to Pittsburg.
The No. 13-ranked Apaches, led by seventh-year head coach Danny Palmer, were 8-2 and 5-1 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference (SWJCFC), including a win over No. 16 Navarro and a non-conference win over the Jayhawk Conference's Fort Scott.
The Apaches sport an explosive offense that does most of its damage on the ground. They were the nation's third best rushing offense, averaging 276.8 yards per game en route to scoring 41.1 points per game.
Freshman Terrance Taylor and sophomore Leroy Dobbins led the way, combining for 1,852 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The Busters match up pretty well on defense, holding opponents to less than 150 rushing yards per game during the regular season; but, they will be without the Kansas State-bound Derricott, who was second on the team in tackles with 71 despite playing in one less game.
"Obviously, when you lose the best linebacker in the nation, in my eyes, it's going to hurt you," Miller said of Derricott's absence.
Fortunately, the Busters still have their leading tackler (85) in Errol Clarke, and their third leading tackler (40) Alex Neuschafer will move inside to fill Derricott's void.
But if the Busters are able to slow the Apaches' running game, they can still rely on their redshirt sophomore quarterback Randy Price.
Price led the Apaches to a conference championship in his true freshman season in 2011 before sitting out 2012 due to injury. He's back this year, and is commanding the lethal offense, throwing for 1,387 yards and 16 touchdowns, while only getting intercepted seven times.
"He's become stronger," Palmer said about his QB and the improvement he's made since 2011. "He still has the same talent in running and throwing, but I think he's become a better passer."
While those two units are the best each team has to offer, the game may be won when the Busters have the ball and the Apaches are on defense.
When the Busters played well this season, they got the running game going quickly and star running back Tyreek Hill in space with the ball.
That's something Palmer says his defense is very aware of.
"We don't have anybody on our football team as fast as him," Palmer said of Hill, mentioning that all the scouts that have passed through Tyler in the last few weeks leading up to the bowl have all wanted to talk about the Oklahoma State-committed Hill.
"There's not a lot you can change right now," Palmer explained about how to try to stop Hill. "We've just got to be aware of where he's at."
The Busters use Hill in a variety of ways, both in the backfield and out wide. The 5-foot-9 speedster was the leading rusher for the Busters with 621 yards on only 105 carries, and was also second in receiving yards with 530 on 31 receptions. He combined to score 11 touchdowns.
However, the Busters, who switched starting quarterbacks in mid-season, have also stalled when Hill isn't able to break loose, averaging only 351.1 yards per game.
Meanwhile, the Apache defense has been porous at times, allowing 184.7 rushing yards and 26 points per game.
Notes: This will be the first ever meeting between Tyler and Garden City ... A Buster win would draw their bowl record to an even .500 at 10-10-1 all time ... The Busters beat Copiah-Lincoln 31-29 in the Mississippi Bowl in 2012 ... Neither Tyler or Garden City has played in the Football Capital of Kansas Bowl prior to this season.
Know the foe
Who: Football Capital of Kansas Bowl: Garden City vs Tyler Junior College.
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Carnie Smith Stadium, Pittsburg State University
Last Meeting: N/A
Garden City (2-5, 2-7)
League: Jayhawk Conference
Mascot: Broncbusters (Brown and White)
Coach: Matt Miller, (1st year)
Probable Starting Lineup
T--Dontavious Blair, 6-7, 275, So.; Colby Hamel, 6-3, 305, So.
G--Mitch Moore, 6-2, 275, Fr.; Ryan Johnson, 6-5, 330, 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--Jake Curran, 6-3, 200, So.
PK--Tyler Peterson, 5-11, 180, So.
E--Richard Obi, 6-3, 255, So.; Brandon Salmons, 6-1, 215, Fr. or Gary Stewart, 6-3, 215, Fr. or Michael McEachern 5-10, 280, Fr.
N--Ralphael Bernard, 6-1, 290, So.
MLB--Errol Clarke, 6-3, 240, Fr.; Alex Neuschafer, 6-2, 235, Fr.
OLB--Dalton Gantz, 6-0, 210, Fr.; Darius Jones, 6-2, 230, So.
CB--Wonderful Terry, 5-10, 180, So.; Tim Hill, 5-11, 185, 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, L 1-0*#
Aug. 31--at Cisco, Texas, L 1-0#
Sept. 7--at Hutchinson, L 34-24*
Sept. 21--AIR FORCE PREP, L 1-0#
Sept. 28--at Fort Scott, W 33-14*
Oct. 5--BUTLER, L 20-10*
Oct. 12--HIGHLAND, L 20-17*
Oct. 19--at Dodge City, W 41-22*
Oct. 26--at Coffeyville, L 37-34, 2OT*
*--Denotes Jayhawk Conference game
#--Denotes forfeited games
Tyler Junior College (8-2, 5-1)
League: Southwest Junior College Football Conference
Mascot: Apaches (Black and Gold)
Coach: Danny Palmer (7th season, 40-27)
Probable Starting Lineup:
T--Drew Sarvary, 6-6, 338, So.; Caleb Brady, 6-6, 310, So.
G--Frank Kee, 6-4, 350, So.; Sam Jenkins, 6-1, 315, Fr.
C--Kevin Vaitai, 6-2, 330, Fr.
WR--Josh Reynolds, 6-3, 178, Fr.; Jonathan Epps, 5-9, 165, So.; Andre Sanders 5-10. 177, So.; Willie Robinson, 6-1, 171, Fr.
RB--Terrence Taylor, 5-10, 209, Fr.; Leroy Dobbins, 5-8, 188, So.
QB--Randy Price, 6-3, 189, So.
K--Ljundrim Kaba, 6-2, 181, Fr.
E--Colton Moorehead, 6-4, 265, Fr.; Will Coleman, 6-5, 231, So.
DT--Wawa Leota, 6-2, 286, So.
NG--Motekiai Maile, 6-4, 300, Fr.
OLB--Caleb Tuiasosopo, 6-3, 248, So.; Treavor Pugh, 6-0, 199, Fr.
MLB--Larry Thomas, 6-3, 195, So.
CB--Caleb Williams, 5-8, 184, So.; Tre Rosser, 5-10, 176, Fr.
S--Savion Brown, 6-1, 197, Fr.; Kenny Iloka, 6-2, 209, So.
P--Christian Madrigal, 6-0, 220, So.
Aug. 31--FORT SCOTT, W 49-26
Sept. 7--Kilgore College, W 56-24*
Sept. 14--SOUTHEAST PREP ACADEMY, W 49-0
Sept. 21--BLINN COLLEGE, W 31-28*
Sept. 26--Northeast Oklahoma A&M College, W 63-49*
Oct. 5--NAVARRO COLLEGE, W 17-10*
Oct. 12--Cisco College, W 49-23*
Oct. 19--Trinity Valley, L 55-31*
Oct. 26--KILGORE COLLEGE, W 42-12#
Nov. 2--NAVARRO COLLEGE, L 33-24#
*--Denotes SWJCFC game
#--Denotes playoff game