Buster offense set to duplicate elite 2012
By J. Levi Burnfin
Repeating excellence is difficult to do. Too many things can go wrong from one season to another to seamlessly continue performing at an elite level.
And make no mistake, the Garden City Community College Broncbusters' offense was an elite unit last season, scoring 37.7 points per game and racking up nearly 500 yards of offense per game. Starting quarterback Nick Marshall completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also ran for a team-leading 1,095 yards and 19 more scores, propelling the Busters to a 7-4 season and a Mississippi Bowl win.
Those statistics mount up to a quarterback who is difficult to replace.
And Busters' head coach Matt Miller says that it might just be impossible.
"Guys like that come around once or twice in your lifetime," he said.
But Miller also said that this season the Busters do not need the same other-wordly stats that Marshall accumulated.
"We've got enough talent with Tyreek (Hill) and our wide receivers that I just need guys that don't make mistakes and lose us ball games," he said. "I don't need the scramble where you toss off four 300-pounders and toss it 80 yards downfield."
Instead, just being able to get the ball into the hands of the numerous playmakers the Busters have in the backfield and on the outside will be enough, Miller said.
The most dynamic weapon that warrants the ball the most is Hill, who, as a freshman, accumulated more than 1,600 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. Hill, named to the NJCAA first team All-America unit, is coming into his sophomore season with a cargo load of expectations as the top junior college running back in several college scouting services.
It's yet to be seen how exactly the Busters will use him in 2013. Last season, he played a lot of slot receiver, catching 35 balls for 713 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 66 times for 389 yards. Miller indicated that Hill and Columbia University sophomore transfer Mike Gerst can be used interchangeably in the backfield and in the slot. That should allow Miller freedom to get Hill the ball in several different ways.
But it's still on Akeem Jones, the presumptive if not yet officially announced starting quarterback, to try to find ways to get the ball to several different playmakers.
Jones, a freshman from Miami Carol City High School (Fla.), will have the responsibility of taking care of the football, yet still managing to get the ball to the plethora of receivers the Busters have at their disposal, including sophomores Nile Daniel and Brandon Snell, and freshmen Monterio Burchfield and Oscar Larry. Daniel and Snell will be the starting receivers for the Busters, though Miller's offense incorporates several four-wide sets alongside more conventional pro sets. He also mentioned freshmen Trevin Wiens and Braeden Robinson as potential receivers to make and impact on offense. Wiens played on two of Meade's Class 2A state championship teams while Robinson was a wide receiver at Scott City High School.
In the backfield, freshman Matt McDonald, out of Piper High School in Kansas City, may have solidified himself as the top tailback when Hill and Gerst are in the slot or not playing. However, none of these weapons are going to be very effective if not for the talented big men up front.
Led by sophomore tackles Dontavious Blair and Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College transfer Ryan Williams, the Buster offensive line has the potential to be even better than they were last season.
"Talent-wise, from tackle to tackle, I'd say (this year's unit is better)," said Miller. "But this group has a lot to live up to."
Last year's line paved the way for both Marshall and Hill but also running back Jamal Tyler, who ran for 722 yards on 150 carries for a 4.8 average. Blair returns at left tackle, as does Jason Carreon (2012 GCHS grad), who started at left guard last season and will move to center this season. However, left guard Mitch Moore, a Garden City High grad, will be the lone freshman on the line as transfer Colby Hamel (Lakin High) started at center for Hutchinson Community College last season and will play right guard for the Busters this season.
"We can possibly be better than we were, but we've got to continue to gel up front," said Miller of the front line.
The same can be said of Jones and his weapons on the outside. It could take time to gel with the wide receivers and running backs to try to hit the same stride the Busters' offense did last season. Even though they may not need to hit quite the high they did.
"Last year, we were in some real high-scoring affairs and I think our defense is much improved," said Miller.