It was a night fit for a king.
And wasn’t it just appropriate that the king in this story was none other than David.
In this case, it was Garden City free safety/receiver/kick returner David Arteaga, who wore the crown in more than ways than one as he and his Buffaloes cruised to a 46-0 victory over Wichita South on homecoming night when the senior was crowned the king during halftime festivities.
“This is a special moment for me,” a smiling Arteaga said afterward. “We just gotta keep winning, keep winning.”
For the third straight week, as the Buffs remained perfect, the defense went another game without giving up any points.
“I feel like our chemistry is good,” Arteaga said. “This is the best defense that I’ve played on. Eleven heads are going to the ball.”
At 5-8, 165, Arteaga is not the biggest Buff, but he might play the biggest of all.
On this occasion, he had the biggest impact on the game.
His pass interception and return of 22 yards for a touchdown extended a 9-0 Buffs’ lead early in the second quarter.
That grew to 29-0 by halftime, thanks to a 26-yard screen pass from Garret Doll to Quinton LaPointe, and then a seven-yard burst around left end by LaPointe with 59 seconds left before the break.
The Buffs had scored on an 11-yard TD strike from Doll to Tye Davis on the opening drive of the game, covering 80 yards in 14 plays. Anthony Flores booted a 28-yard field goal early in the second, making it 9-0.
But Arteaga was not done, not by any means.
Instead of heading to the locker room for the intermission, he stood at mid-field and listened to his name announced as homecoming king.
“This is a special night, something I’ll never forget,” Arteaga said.
Then, he had even more royal moments in the second half — recovering a fumble on the second play of the third quarter, and two plays later caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Doll on a quick slant pattern.
Arteaga and several others stepped into the lineup as the entire three starting wideouts were down with injuries, and yet the Buffs didn’t seem to miss a beat as Doll was 13 of 26 for 218 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
“I thought our offense made some strides tonight in many ways,” head coach Brian Hill said of the 384 total yards. “But we dropped two touchdown passes, had a bunch of penalties, and that is in our control. But all in all, our offensive line played its best game, and I thought our defense was dominant.”
Even sophomore running back Avey Arana — relieving LaPointe, who is nursing an injury — had a big night, rushing 14 times for 115 yards and a touchdown of two yards midway through the third period.
“We’ve always thought Avey was our next guy (at running back),” Hill said. “He is patient, and waits for his blockers and he makes good cuts.”
But Hill saved the biggest praise for his team’s defense.
The Buffs, who seemingly are playing with a chip on their shoulder on defense, limited South to just three first downs, 16 rushing yards on 19 attempts and only three passing yards — grand total of 19 yards.
“I said at the start of the season I thought this might be my best defensive line, and I still firmly believe that it is proving me correct,” Hill said. “We’ve got active ends, and then the big guys clogging up the middle.”
Doll was able to spread the passing around, using five different receivers as Davis led the way with five receptions for 91 yards.
In his final analysis, Hill said the night was special for Arteaga and couldn’t think of a more deserving player.
“He’s the epitome of a program player,” Hill said of Arteaga. “He’s a little man with a big heart. He lives and breathes football. About the only other thing I’d say he might do is run for mayor. He might win after tonight.”
Now 3-0 for the second straight season, the Buffs hit the road for three weeks due to a quirk in the schedule. They head to Hays on Friday for their Western Athletic Conference opener as they begin defense of their 2016 crown. It is then on to Liberal and Wichita Northwest.