Know the foe: Buffs hit road to face Wichita East
By BRETT MARSHALL
Neither Brian Hill or Brian Byers enjoyed the 2011 result of the Wichita East vs. Garden City high school football game at Memorial Stadium.
As it was, neither coach lost the game, but neither coach won the game.
That's what happens when a fall lightning storm swept through western Kansas forcing postponement of many games, but in the case of East vs. GCHS, the game was called off. Totally.
No reschedule, no playing on Saturday.
For Byers, now in his 5th season at the Blue Aces' helm, it was a trip that he would soon like to forget. And not have repeated. The same can be said of Hill.
Friday night, the two teams which represent two the largest Class 6A schools in Kansas, are scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Wichita South's Carpenter Stadium.
"It was really hard for the kids, who would go anywhere to play a game," Byers said of the 2011 experience. "On the way back, after not having played, the kids were really wound up. I never want to do that again."
Hill has a clear recollection of that frustrating Friday.
"We got ready four different times to go out and play, and never got the chance," Hill said. "It was so strange to go home and not have anything to talk about with respect to having played a game. I'd hope never to have to go through that again."
Both teams come into this year's game on the upswing, the Blue Aces sporting an impressive 4-1 record while the Buffaloes are coming off a 37-14 thrashing of Liberal. East owns victories over Wichita North (39-12), Wichita West (27-22), Wichita South (34-7) and most recently Kapaun-Mt. Carmel (14-7). Its lone setback was at the hands of Northwest (44-13).
Garden's roller-coaster schedule has seen the Buffs lose to Bixby, Okla., topple Woodward, Okla., and roll by Great Bend before losing in the final minute of the game two weeks prior to Hays. The Buffs bounced back for its dominating homecoming victory over Liberal to pull their season record to 3-2.
"East gets efficient play out of their quarterback (T.J. Sparr)," Hill said of the Blue Aces senior signal caller. "He didn't play last year, but he throws good passes, he's got a good touch and he's a dual threat (381 rushing yards, 380 passing yards)."
The balanced East offense will utilize the running skills of sophomore Calil Burnett (374 yards, 9.12 avg.) and junior Deonta Thomas (326 rushing yards, 5.43 avg.). J.J. Normore, a 6-5, 180-pound senior, tops the receivers with 12 catches for 230 yards.
"They have a better understanding of what they're doing and don't make the same mistakes they had been making in past years," Hill said of the Blue Aces. "Winning develops that and their kids are playing with confidence. It shows through on film when you're watching."
Of East's defense, Hill said it is something he and his staff had not seen this year.
"It's something like a Desert Swarm that the University of Arizona used to run," Hill said with a smile. "It's a challenge for the offensive line, to know their assignments, to communicate properly. We've spent extra time on it this week. It's just how and where they line up. It's not a traditional set."
For Byers' part, he is happy with the progress his team has made during his tenure. East had been in the basement of City League schools when he arrived and they are 26-21 in his time as head coach.
"We have a good group of kids and its taken a long time to get rid of the bad habits that we inherited," Byers said. "We've worked hard to give them a chance to be successful. We're not as talented as teams we've had, but we're a lot better overall as a team. These kids want to succeed."
On Garden City, Byers said the Buffaloes once again pose multiple problems for the Blue Aces.
"On offense, the quarterback (Greyson Tempel) is a pretty dynamic player," Byers said of the GCHS junior who has thrown for 904 yards and rushed for 704 yards. He's thrown for 7 touchdowns on 79-of-134 passes and has 4 interceptions. On the ground, Tempel has scored 9 TDs.
"Greyson's progression has been good," Hill said of his first-year starter. "He's really growing up in front of our eyes."
Hill, though, was most happy with his team's second half defensive effort against a potent Liberal offense, shutting the Redskins out after they had been averaging nearly 50 points per game.
"At times we looked tired, but they stepped up and not only stopped them, but then our offense came back and scored," said Hill. "That's what you like to see in a team. Getting it done both ways. We didn't revert back to free-lancing. The kids trusted the coaches and they trusted each other."
This marks the final game before teams jump into Class 6A district play a week from now. The Buffs will open district play at home against Maize High.
Know the Foe
Who: Garden City vs. Wichita East
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Carpenter Stadium, Wichita South H.S.
701 W. 33rd St. South.
Directions: Hwy 54 East into Wichita; south on I-235; Take Seneca St. exit (Exit 2) and turn left on S. Seneca St.; Turn right on W. 33rd St. S.; Carpenter Stadium is on your right.
Last Meeting: 2010, Garden City, 42-22 at Wichita. 2011 game postponed by lightning.
Class: 6A, District 8
League: Western Athletic Conference
Mascot: Buffaloes (Brown/White)
Coach: Brian Hill, (3rd year, 15-10, .600)
Probable Starting lineup
T--Alex Ortiz, 6-3, 285, So.; Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.
G--Ian Jones, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Ben Blood, 6-5, 275, Sr.
C--Mitch Moore, 6-1, 245, Sr.
TE--Taylor Foley, 6-2, 220, Sr.
WR--Dustin Tempel, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Hunter Delgado, 6-1, 165, Jr.;
FB--Brady Bean, 5-11, 200, Sr.
TB--Logan Dechant, 5-9, 170, Sr.
QB--Greyson Tempel, 5-10, 175, Jr.
PK--Rudy Chavez, 5-8, 150, Sr.
E--Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Taylor Foley, 6-2, 220, Sr.
T--James Nguyen, 6-0, 205, Jr.; Quinton Mead, 5-10, 210, Jr.
LB--Todd Savolt, 5-8, 180, Sr.; Brady Bean, 5-11, 200, Sr.
S--Hunter Delgado, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Dozie Ekweariri, 5-8, 145 Jr.
CB--Denton Keller, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Dustin Tempel, 5-10, 165, Jr.
P--Mitchell Hernandez, 5-9, 170, Jr.
2012 Results (3-2, 2-1 WAC)
Aug. 31--BIXBY, OKLA., L 42-7
Sept. 7--at Woodward, Okla., W 17-7
Sept. 14--at Great Bend#, W 45-28
Sept. 21--HAYS#, L 29-21
Sept. 28--LIBERAL#, W 37-14
Oct. 5--at Wichita East
Oct. 19--at Hutchinson*
Oct. 26--at Dodge City*#
*--Denotes Class 6A District-8 game
#--Denotes Western Athletic Conference game
Wichita East High School
League: Greater Wichita Athletic League
Mascot: Blue Aces (Blue/White)
Class: 6A, District 6
Coach: Brian Byers (6th year, 26-21, .553)
Probable Starting Lineup
T--Justis Wimes, 6-0, 185, Jr.; Michael Flynn, 6-0, 230, Sr.
G--Matt Bowman, 6-1, 250, Sr.; Griffin Nuss, 6-0, 240, So.
C--Teryn Brown, 6-1, 210, Jr.
TE--Traevon McGarity, 6-2, 185, Jr.
WR--J.J. Normore, 6-5, 180, Sr.; Garrett Gates, 5-10, 150, Sr.
QB--T.J. Sparr, 6-1, 220, Sr.
TB--Calil Burnett, 5-11, 165, So.
FB--Deonta Thomas, 6-0, 180, Jr.
PK--Deonta Thomas, 6-0, 180, Jr.
E--Carlos Brown, 6-1, 215, Jr.; Isiah Hardeman, 6-0, 185, Sr.
T--Blake Bechler, 6-0, 190, Sr.; Shawn Eyle, 6-0, 250, Sr.
NG--Jonathan Schmidt, 6-1, 245, Sr.
LB--Audie Burrows, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Ray Mitchell, 5-9, 210, Sr.
CB--Jesus Le, 5-10, 170, Jr.; Willie Edwards, 6-1, 175, So.
SS--Elijah Shelite, 6-1, 190, Jr.
FS--Lupe Fraire, 6-0, 180, Sr.
P--Lupe Fraire, 6-0, 180, Sr.
2012 Season Results (4-1)
Aug. 31--WICHITA NORTH, W 39-12
Sept. 6--WICHITA WEST, W 27-22
Sept. 14--at Wichita Northwest, L 44-13
Sept. 21--at Wichita South, W 34-7
Sept. 28--at Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, W 14-7
Oct. 5--GARDEN CITY
Oct. 12--WICHITA HEIGHTS*
Oct. 19--at Derby*
Oct. 26--at Wichita Southeast*
*-Denotes Class 6A district game.