Thirteen Garden City High School upcoming graduating seniors charted their future academic and athletic careers by signing national letters-of-intent in an early Wednesday morning ceremony at The Garden.
The 13 student-athletes covered Buffs who competed in fall sports and in upcoming spring sports — five in girls soccer, four in boys soccer, three in football and one in girls golf.
Of that group, 10 of them will be continuing their education and athletic career without departing Garden City, signing in three sports with Garden City Community College.
Buffs’ all-state and Shrine Bowl selection Demarcus Elliott inked his name to a Broncbuster letter, foregoing a once offer from Kansas State University for a greyshirt scholarship, an offer that would have not gone into effect until the second semester of 2019.
That offer had originally been made a couple of weeks ago, but according to Elliott, opted to stay home and play for the ‘Busters with the hopes of getting more NCAA Division I offers next year.
Two other Buffs’ footballers also signed — defensive end Jasper Partin, who will attend Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, and defensive back/wide receiver/return specialist David Arteaga, who will be playing at Fort Scott for former Dodge City quarterback Kale Pick.
Five members of the GCHS girls soccer team will be staying home to play at GCCC in the fall — Emely Jaco, Evelyn Ramirez, Jasmin Ortiz, Crystal Ruvalcaba and Edith Flores.
Speaking for the group of five, Ramirez said that the group really wanted to help the Broncbuster program move to a higher level, and playing at home in front of family and friends was a big appeal.
“For me, and I think the others, too, we wanted to be able to have our parents, our families be able to watch us play,” said Ramirez, a right backer. “I think it’s a great opportunity. We get to work with our past teammates and we have a bond that will help the team.”
Jaco is also a right backer while Ortiz and Ruvalcaba are midfielders and Flores has been playing left back for the Buffs.
GCHS head coach Joaquin Padilla was equally proud of the five girls as well as the four boys who signed with the Busters.
“This has always been part of our goals as a program, to give them an opportunity to further their education,” Padilla said. “All they need is a chance, sometimes it’s just one chance that they get.”
The four boys include forward Kevin Benitez, left and right back Rene Lares and Emanuel Carrillo along with left winger Genaro Macias.
“It will be great to play with teammates at the next level,” Benitez said on behalf of his three buddies. “It’s good that we’re staying home and I think we have a stronger bond that will be helpful to the college team.”
Morgan Cabral will be playing women’s golf next fall at Ottawa University after a successful fall season for the Buffs’ girls team.
“It’s far enough away from home, and they’ve got a good program,” said Cabral, who will join former GCHS teammate Kendra Martin with the program. “I wanted to meet new people and I think it’s going to be very competitive.”
For the Buffs’ Elliott, the signing with GCCC for football brings an end for the moment of a recruiting journey that has left the 6-4, 290-pounder miffed with the process.
“At the end of the day, coach (Jeff) Sims has been looking out for me,” Elliott said of the Busters football mentor. “He wanted me to take the K-State offer, but it just felt like it came too late and I now want to play here for at least one year and see what kind of offers I might be able to get then.”
Elliott, who will likely play just on the defensive side of the ball, said he hopes to work on getting quicker and using his hands better.
“I want to be able to make more plays, more often and I know I’ve gotta work hard,” Elliott said. “I’ll play with a chip on my shoulder. I just honestly don’t know what to think about not getting many offers. I think some schools must think we don’t play anybody good out here in this part of the state.”
Partin said he was impressed with his visit to Salina and to the KWU campus.
“I really loved it and the coaching staff, the campus and town,” said Partin, who will likely be competing for an outside linebacker position of a stand-up rushing defensive end. “I think the fact they wanted me really bad had a lot to do with my decision.”
Arteaga, who at 5-9, 165-pounds, might have been overlooked because of his size, but he was the do-it-all for coach Brian Hill in the Buffs’ 8-3 season when they reached the state quarterfinals.
“I felt like they treated me like family,” Arteaga said of the Greyhounds’ staff. “I think they liked how versatile I’ve been, and the many positions I played.”