For the first time, Ellsworth’s Tony Haynes will be facing a Garden City Community College team as a head coach.
But he’s no stranger to the Broncbusters.
Haynes took over the helm of the Panthers this season, but was the offensive coordinator for Coffeyville in 2016 and 2017, and also the OC at Butler from 2012 to 2014.
And with the scheduling agreement between the Iowa community colleges and the Kansas colleges, Haynes has not gone far from his KJCCC roots.
“It’s funny, when someone says our conference, it almost kind of lumps together the two conferences because we play each other every year,” he said. “It almost feels like one conference.”
And that makes the transition for Haynes a little bit easier.
“Kinda knowing the people in the conference, and having some people who have helped me out a little bit,” Haynes said. “Gary Thomas at Dodge helped me out a lot in getting used to the transition.”
But the Panthers (0-2) will still be looking for the their first win when they host the No. 7 Busters (1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Iowa Falls, Iowa.
The Panthers lost 30-12 in the opening week at Hutchinson, but were trailing just 16-12 entering the fourth quarter. Then, last week, Highland scored the final two touchdowns of the game to win 17-10.
“We’re just kind of growing up right now,” Haynes said. “We’re progressing and getting a little bit better each week.”
But the seventh-ranked Busters, who have a better road record under Sims than at home, may be a different type of challenge.
“Garden City is established. We all know who they are,” Haynes said. “They always play hard. They always have a tough football team. That’s their identity — well-disciplined.”
Tough is right, what with the Busters rushing for 490 yards against Dodge City in last week’s 52-24 win. And the Busters likely have a few more tricks up their sleeve than they had to show against the out-matched Conqs.
“We just want to put ourselves in a position to win the game at the end,” Haynes said. “We’ve done that two weeks in a row, and that’s what we want to do this week. We just want to finish it a little bit better.”
Sims’ expectations for the Panthers were the same — keep it close and don’t make the big mistake.
“They’re very sound. They’re trying to not hurt themselves,” Sims said. “They’re trying to play what I consider sound junior college football. They’re trying to avoid losing the game and trying to make you win it.”
That’s become a little bit more difficult when the Panthers’ starting quarterback, Jack Bastable, was injured in the season opener and will miss the rest of the season.
“We’ve got two young, good quarterbacks who are going out there trying to handle something they may not be ready to handle,” Haynes said.
That’s freshmen Byron Jarrett and Mark Wright, who have combined to complete 34-of-71 passes for 291 yards, one touchdown and five picks.
But Sims sees the Panthers as close to putting together a good team.
“They’re very, very tough, and very young and they try to avoid mistakes,” he said. “They’re on the verge of being a very, very good team.”