Buffs, Redskins hope to bounce back in WAC matchup after tough losses

9/26/2012

By BRETT MARSHALL

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Call it putting the past behind you.

That's been the emphasis this week for both Brian Hill and Cliff Abbott, respective head football coaches at Garden City and Liberal High Schools as they prpare for Friday's 7 p.m. game at Buffalo Stadium.

Both coaches, and their teams, are coming off tough Western Athletic Conference losses a week ago, as the Buffaloes watched Hays High score the winning touchdown with just 31 seconds remaining in the game, resulting in a 29-21 heatbreaking loss while Liberal's high-octane offense couldn't keep up with Dodge City's explosive offense as the Red Demons produced a 62-48 triumph.

"It's been a tough emotional time for the team," Hill said on Wednesday. "But it has gradually gone away, and gotten better every day. We did have a little letdown on Sunday when we watched film, but they've come out and worked hard this week. They'll be ready on Friday night."

Liberal's Abbott realizes his team is still in the rebuilding phase in his second season, but the former LHS standout knows his team has made strides from a year ago when the Buffs stormed out to a 21 first quarter advantage and extended it to 42-0 at halftime.

"It wasn't much of a competitive game on our part," Abbott said of the 2011 contest. "We're a year older, but we're still inexperienced on the defensive side and that's why we're having trouble stopping other teams. It's not lack of effort, but just lacking experience."

One thing the Redskins haven't had any problems with is scoring. They score in bunches, and they sometimes score quickly.

"They do what they do, and they do it well," Hill said of the 2012 edition of the Redskins.

Through four games, they are averaging 47.3 points per game, including an 80-7 romp over Guymon, Okla., for their only win of the season.

Abbott's son, Britton, now a 6-3, 210-pound junior, has gained a year's experience at quarterback and the younger Abbott seems to have stepped up his performance from a year ago.

"He's grown up and he gets rid of the ball quickly," Hill said of the younger Abbott. "He knows where he's going and their line has a better understanding of protecting him and are giving him a chance to make plays."

Britton Abbott has led the air assault for the Redskins, throwing for 1,165 yards with 13 touchdowns and has been intercepted just three times. He has completed 81-of-145 passes.

"He's a year older, a year more mature and has been a smarter player," coach Abbott said of his son. "He's just been making better decisions for us."

Abbott has a bevy of receivers to choose from, too, with sophomore Trenton Hammond (6-1, 210) leading the way with a WAC-high 30 catches for 525 yards and five touchdowns. Hammond was among the state's elite 300-meter hurdlers last spring. But he's not the lone wideout for Britton. JJ Lewis (6-4, 195, Sr.) has 16 catches for 319 yards and four scores. Nolan Larkin (6-0, 195, Jr.) and Lorenzo Pando (5-10, 175, Jr.) each have 12 receptions with Larkin's totaling 143 yards and Pando 95.

"Without a doubt, with one more year of familiarity with the system, the coaches, we're a lot further along," Abbott said. "But when you're playing a game in the WAC, you have to bring your best shot because you know you're going up against good teams, with good coaches. We're having to learn on the job and sometimes that can be painful."

Abbott said he has been pleased with his team's balanced offense that has produced an average of 473.3 yards per game, 291.3 of that in the air. The Redskins are adding in a solid 182 yards rushing, with Abbott at quarterback the top performer there, too, with 293 yards and Christian Torres (5-9, 175, Sr.) adding in 264 yards. Abbott has five rushing TDs.

"The passing game has helped our running game, and we've done our best to keep the defenses guessing," Abbott said.

Of Garden City's 2012 edition, Abbott says he sees much of the same type of play that the Buffs dealt the Redskins a year ago.

"They're big, physical and well-coached," Abbott said of Garden City. "They're very patient on offense and are a disciplined team. They're not going to give you many scoring opportunities. They certainly humbled us last year. We could never get any traction in the game."

Of the Buffs' defense, Abbott said he was impressed with their aggressive nature of their play.

"They're very quick, very sound and they get great linebacker play who like to bring it," Abbott said. "They've got speed on the perimeter. We've got our work cut out for us."

The Buffaloes, meanwhile, still are searching for the consistency that was prevalent in their 45-28 romp over Great Bend in week 3.

Likewise, Hill said Liberal's defense was better despite giving up the points and yards.

"They fly around, their linebackers do a good job and they played hard in all three phases of the game," Hill said of Liberal. "If you relax, they'll make you pay. They can score from anywhere at anytime."

Hill said after watching the film of the Hays game, he was even more impressed with the progress his team had made.

"Our effort in the second half was terrific," Hill said. "They rallied around each other and they just responded to Hays each time they scored. I hadn't seen that repetitive response to a good team all year, and that's what I'm most proud of from that game. Next time, we want to use that experience to win the close game."

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Know the Foe

Who: Liberal High School at Garden City High School

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Buffalo Stadium, Garden City High School

Last Meeting: 2011, Garden City, 52-21

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Garden City

Class: 6A, District 8

League: Western Athletic Conference

Mascot: Buffaloes (Brown/White)

Coach: Brian Hill, (3nd year, 14-10, .583)

Probable Starting lineup

Offense

T--Alex Ortiz, 6-3, 285, So.; Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.

G--James Nguyen, 6-0, 205, Jr.; 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.

QB--Greyson Tempel, 5-10, 175, Jr.

PK--Rudy Chavez, 5-8, 150, Sr.

Defense

E--Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Taylor Foley, 6-2, 220, Sr.

T--Kieran Henderson, 5-9, 200, Sr.; 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.

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2012 Results (2-2, 1-1 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#

Oct. 5--at Wichita East

Oct. 12--MAIZE*

Oct. 19--at Hutchinson*

Oct. 26--at Dodge City*#

*--Denotes Class 6A District-8 game

#--Denotes Western Athletic Conference game

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Liberal High School

League: Western Athletic Conference

Mascot: Redskins (Red/Black)

Class: 5A, District 8

Coach: Cliff Abbott (2nd year, 3-10)

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2012 Season Results (1-3, 0-2)

Aug. 31--ULYSSES, L 43-27

Sept. 7--at Guymon, Okla., W 80-7

Sept. 14--at Hays#, L 51-34

Sept. 21--DODGE CITY#, L 62-48

Sept. 28--at Garden City#

Oct. 5--GREAT BEND#

Oct. 12--at Goddard*

Oct. 19--GODDARD EISENHOWER*

OCT. 26--at Bishop Carroll*

*--Denotes Class 5A District-8 game

#--Denotes Western Athletic Conference game

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