The Garden City High School Buffaloes are 0-3 for the first time since 2003.
But WAC play begins on Friday for the Buffs, and so the slate is wiped heading into the 7 p.m. matchup vs. Hays at Buffalo Stadium.
“(Monday) was just about resetting the season,” head coach Brian Hill said, “and understanding we’re starting WAC play. Being back-to-back champs, the bullseye is on our backs, and have an 0-3 record, teams are definitely looking at the opportunity to knock us off.”
The opportunity is also there for the Buffs, however. In a season where they have an extremely young, inexperienced roster, if the Buffs were able to win a WAC title, an 0-3 start would be forgotten.
The Indians (1-2, 1-1 WAC) are the first roadblock to that goal for the Buffs.
“They’re physical, and they’ve got playmakers on both sides of the ball,” Hill said. “They’re really well coached. They’ve played some really good teams, as well, and they’ve been in some dogfights, so they’re pretty well battle-tested for only playing three games.”
Hays is coming off a dramatic 21-20 victory over WAC rival Liberal, getting a pair of ball carriers more than 100 yards. The Indians sealed the win, however, on special teams, blocking the potential game-tying extra point with 2:17 remaining.
The Indians’ two-headed rushing attack features Palmer Hutchison and Hayden Brown, who are No. 1 and No. 4 in rushing yards through three games in the WAC. Hutchinson has 312 yards and four touchdowns and Brown 233 yards and a score in the Indians’ spread running attack.
Hays head coach Tony Crough is in his first year at the helm at Hays, but he’s no stranger to Garden City as he is a GCHS alum and played quarterback on the Buffaloes' 1998 state runner-up team before going on and playing at Fort Hays State.
“They’re (Hays) just a lot different than they have been,” Hill said about the Indians with Crough at the helm, instead of former coach Randall Rath.
The Buffs are focusing on themselves more than anything, after losing to Hutchinson in a close game, 28-24, on Saturday.
“We learned a lot about ourselves,” Hill said. “We found ourselves in a game we had a chance to win, and there were parts to that game where we responded positively.”
One of those positive responses came from first-year quarterback Carlos Acosta, who threw for 103 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while running for another 111 yards and another score.
“I thought Carlos played really well, other than the interception he threw,” Hill said. “As far as becoming a threat running the football, that’s going to be big for us going forward. And he was able to create the big play through the air, as well. If we can get that production for our quarterback position, it will open things up…”