Wednesday’s biennial meeting in Salina to finalize high school football schedules for Kansas schools for 2018-19 saw a definite change in both opponents and travel distance for Garden City High School.
After several years of going to great distances to play early-season games, such as Bixby, Okla., Olathe East and most recently Castle View, Colo., the Buffaloes' schedule will have a dramatically different look to it.
The most notable change comes in adding Class 6A powerhouse Derby to the slate, while bringing Hutchinson, another traditional 6A power, onto the schedule. In addition, the Buffs will be facing Valley Center, a Class 5A school that sported a 5-0 record heading into Friday’s night Week 6 game. The Hornets are coached by former Garden High standout Caleb Smith, son of former Buffs’ head coach Mike Smith, who headed the program from 2002 to 2009.
In 2018, the Buffs will open at Derby on Aug. 31, then return home to face Valley Center. Week 3 will be at Hutchinson, followed by Western Athletic Conference games at home against Liberal and Hays. The Week 6 match-up will have Wichita Northwest in town for the Buffs while the final two regular season games will be on the road at WAC foes Dodge City and Great Bend.
The Buffs own an 11-3 record against Derby, but have not played the Panthers since the 2013 Class 6A semifinal game in Derby, when the Buffs lost 55-17 to the eventual state champs. Derby has since won state titles in 2015 and 2016 and is one of the favorites this year. With Hutchinson's return to the schedule, the Buffs have one of their natural 6A central/western Kansas rivalry games renewed. Garden owns a slender 19-16 lead in the series, and won the last meeting between the schools in 2015, 14-2, at Buffalo Stadium. The Buffs-Valley Center game will be the first between the schools.
The 2019 schedule will remain the same as far as the order of opponents, but the first game that season will be played a week later on Sept. 6. Home and away games are reversed from the 2018 schedule.