By BRETT MARSHALL
In the 1993 popular hit movie, Groundhog Day, actor Bill Murray portrays a grizzled weatherman who unfortunately wakes up every morning with the day repeating itself.
Brian Hill certainly is no grizzled weatherman, but surely he must have some similar thoughts about what it has been like to wake up each morning of the four seasons that he's been on the sidelines for the Garden City High School football team's opening game.
Still searching for that magic in the first week, Hill once again regroups for week two, trying to put the sting of the opening 32-27 loss at Bixby, Okla., behind his Buffaloes and get ready for the next opponent — in this case the Boomers of Woodward, Okla.
So the not so unfamiliar territory and challenge of re-grouping will be at the top of Hill's goal list this week as the Buffs prepare for the 7 p.m. home opener on Friday at Buffalo Stadium. And what about Groundhog Day?
"I can see where somebody from the outside might think there's some similarities," Hill said Wednesday at the end of mid-week practices for the Buffs. "But when you're here on the inside, every day, every year is different from the opening game to our second game. We played better, executed better, competed better than any of the other three previous teams."
Unlike the 2011 and 2012 lopsided losses to Scott City and Bixby, the 2013 opener 400 miles from home was enough for them to realize that there is much to look forward to in the remaining eight regular season games.
"We did enough good things against Bixby, that we could have won the game," Hill said. "Watching the film, we executed really good on both sides of the ball. We gave the kids chances to make plays."
Despite giving up 500-plus yards, Hill said that the Spartans earned nearly every one of them the hard way.
"Only a couple of long plays got away from us," Hill said. "I was a little shocked when I saw how many yards they had, but our goal was not to allow big plays to happen like they did last year. For the most part, we accomplished that. Give Bixby credit, they drove it and did break the two long runs, but on one of those we held them to a field goal."
Senior quarterback Greyson Tempel rushed 15 times for 212 yards and scored all four touchdowns for the Buffs, but the rest of the rushing attack gained a meager 36 yards on just nine carries.
"That was more due to the way Bixby played defense," Hill said. "They allowed him (Greyson) to keep the football and he wasn't forcing things. The game came to him. They were taking away our running backs, and I'm happy with that anytime."
Tempel's passing game was far from efficient, too, as he connected on just 13-of-36 attempts for 183 yards, was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. It was the same bugaboo that plagued him a year ago in his first season as the Buffs' starting QB.
"In all honesty, the two interceptions really weren't his fault," Hill said in defense of his senior QB. "One, the receiver ran to the inside when he was to cut outside, and the other our receiver had the ball go right through his hands and it dropped into the defender's hands. The one fumble, certainly, he's accountable for it, and he's taken that responsibility. But overall I thought he did a good job."
Tempel did find his newest, and biggest, target in 6-5, 205-pound junior wide receiver Caleb Tramp, who caught 7 passes for 135 yards while Tempel's twin brother, Dustin, grabbed 5 passes for 40 yards.
A patched up defense, beset by preseason injuries to likely starters Hunter Delgado, Zac Finch, Jacob Norquest and Angel Gonzales, struggled against the multiple-set offense of Bixby. The Spartans sliced through the Buffs' defense for 530 yards, balanced nearly equally by 248 yards rushing and 282 passing. The defense did intercept one pass and recover a fumble.
"We won't face too many teams that have multiple ways of attacking you like Bixby," Hill said. "Certainly we can play better, but the fact that they only got 32 points from 500 yards says that our defense was doing some things right."
While the Buffs have dominated the series recently with Woodward, the games have remained competitive with the lone exception the 35-0 shutout in 2011 at Memorial Stadium. The Boomers have stayed close in 19-8 and 17-7 losses on their home field in 2010 and 2012. With fourth-year coach Darris Servis fully entrenched and his system in place, the Boomers rocked El Reno, Okla., 47-7, to open their season a week ago.
Only an opening kickoff return by El Reno blemished an otherwise impressive performance by the Boomers and had Servis liking what he saw in his squad.
"Other than the (opening) kickoff, everything else was good," Servis said. "I liked how well the kids responded after that. We went out and hit 'em in the mouth. We never let up, no matter what the score, and I liked that we kept our focus throughout the game."
The Boomers scored on seven consecutive possessions in the game, two coming after turnovers by El Reno. Senior quarterback Kale Hixon was red-hot for the Boomers, completing 13-of-15 passes for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns and also ran for 94 yards and 2 TDs on 10 carries. Kade Marlatt caught TD passes of 22 and 10 yards while Kaleb Roach pulled in a 19-yarder. Hixon's two rushing scores came from 3 and 52 yards out.
"Our offense has been three years in the making," Servis said. "We've got multiple sets that take advantage of what the defenses do. As long as we can identify what the defense is doing, we have an answer for that."
Servis said that while he remains optimistic about his team, he also is cautiously realistic about playing up two classifications against a much bigger school (709 to 2,032 students).
"I think a couple of years ago when we came up to Garden City our kids were intimidated and we were coming off a win against El Reno then," Servis said. "I don't feel like this group will be intimidated."
Servis, though, is impressed with what he has seen on film of the Buffs.
"Their quarterback (Tempel) is unbelievably good so I know our defense has its work cut out," Servis said. "Their line is big and that's a real challenge for us. I think their defense is more sound this year. They blitzed a lot in the past but I just think they're a little more sound now."
The home opener will also be Military Appreciation Night in which all military personnel attending the game will be admitted free and then be recognized in a halftime ceremony. A pre-game Tailgate Party will begin at 5:45 p.m. and go to 6:45 and will be held on the grassy area next to the GCHS tennis courts. A donation of $2 is requested and the meal consists of either hamburgers or hot dogs, chips, and bottled water.
This will apparently be the final game played between the Buffaloes and the Boomers. Woodward is a Class 4A Oklahoma school with an enrollment of 709 students, grades nine through 12. Garden City is a Class 6A Kansas school with a 2012-13 enrollment of 2,032 for the same grades. Woodward will most likely open its 2014 season against Kingfisher, Okla., while Garden City's opener is uncertain. Kansas schools meet in Salina in early October to determine football districts and classifications for the 2014-15 seasons and GCHS athletic director Martin Segovia has been trying to arrange the Buffs' non-league schedule of three games. They have four games against Western Athletic Conference schools (Class 5A Great Bend, Hays and Liberal; and a Class 6A district/WAC game against Dodge City); the remaining two district games for 2012-13 have been Maize and Hutchinson. Wichita East has been on the Buffs' schedule the past four years as well and Segovia said the Blue Aces will likely remain on the GCHS schedule for the next two seasons.
In the opening week of football for high schools, the remaining eight schools on the Buffs' 2013 schedule posted an 8-0 record. Woodward opened with a 47-7 victory over El Reno, Okla.; Great Bend defeated Hoisington, 35-7; Hays High edged Junction City, 27-22; Liberal outscored Ulysses, 56-41; Wichita East pounded Wichita North, 33-7; Maize powered past Newton, 42-22; Hutchinson held off Salina Central, 42-31; and Dodge City pounded Wichita Southeast, 44-6.
Know the Foe
What: Woodward, Okla. at Garden City
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Buffalo Stadium, Garden City
Last Meeting: 2012, Garden City W 17-7 at Woodward
Series Record: Garden City 7-4 (Won last 6)
Enrollment: 2,032 (Grades 9-12, 2012-13)
Mascot: Buffaloes (Brown White)
Class: Kansas 6A, District 8
Head Coach: Brian Hill (4th year, 17-13, .567)
Projected Starting Lineup
WR--Dusty Tempel, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Mitchell Hernandez, 5-8, 160, Sr.; Caleb Tramp, 6-5, 205, Jr.
T--Alex Frey, 6-4, 290, So.; Alex Ortiz, 6-3, 285, Jr.
G--Montana Fuller, 6-3, 250, Sr.; Cesar Felix, 5-8, 240, Sr.
C--Humberto Perez, 6-0, 230, Jr.
QB--Greyson Tempel, 5-11, 175, Sr.
TB--Jared Koster, 5-11, 155, So.
FB--Clay Woydziak, 5-10, 175, Sr.
PK--Ismael Hernandez, 5-7, 140, Sr.
T--James Nguyen, 6-2, 210, Sr.; Quinton Mead, 5-11, 220, Sr.
E--Cody Worden, 5-11, 180, Sr.; Andrew Brom, 5-8, 170, Sr.
LB--Trenton Chiddix, 5-8, 170, Jr.; Kelton Uthe, 5-10, 215, Sr.; Nalen Rincones, 5-10, 180, So.
CB--Alex Espinosa, 6-0, 160, Jr.; Dusty Tempel, 5-10, 170, Sr.
S--Emilio Parr, 6-2, 175, Sr.; Dozie Ekweariri, 5-9, 140, Sr.
P--Mitchell Hernandez, 5-8, 160, Sr.
Sept. 6--at Bixby, Okla., L 32-27 (0-1)
Sept. 13--WOODWARD, OKLA.
Sept. 20--GREAT BEND*
Sept. 27--at Hays*
Oct. 4--at Liberal*
Oct. 11--WICHITA EAST
Oct. 18--at Maize#
Nov. 1--DODGE CITY*#
*-Indicates WAC game; #-Indicates Class 6A district game.
Mascot: Boomers (Black & Gold)
Class: Oklahoma 4A, District 1
Enrollment: 709 (Grades 9-12)
Head Coach: Darris Servis (4th year, 11-14, .440)
Projected Starting Lineup
WR--Kaleb Roach, 6-5, 180, Sr.; Aleksander Lillebekk, 5-9, 133, Jr.
TE--Austin Ludwyck, 6-2, 171, Sr.; Dane Johnson, 6-0, 207, So.
T--Devon Comstock, 6-2, 208, Jr.; Garrett Hines, 5-11, 200, Jr., or Seth Mead, 6-3, 179, Sr. or Tony Spray, 6-3, 220, So.
C--Tafton Reynolds, 5-11, 238, So.
G--Cole Reynolds, 5-6, 190, Sr.; Luis Corona, 5-10, 218, Sr.
QB--Kale Hixon, 5-8, 172, Sr.
FB--Kyler Ferguson, 6-0,198, Sr.
RB--Xavier Vo, 5-8, 158, Sr.; Dakota Taylor, 6-1, 210, Sr.
PK--Jason Alexander, 5-11, 147, Sr.
E--Devon Comstock, 6-2, 208, Jr.; Dakota Taylor, 6-1, 210, Sr.
NG--Marc Gomez, 5-9, 200, Sr.
T--Tony Spray, 6-3, 220, So.
LB--Coltin Kline, 5-9, 179, Jr.; Kyler Ferguson, 6-0, 198, Sr.; Micah Kee, 6-0, 179, Sr.
CB--Jason Alexander, 5-11, 147, Sr.; Kaleb Roach, 6-5, 180, Sr.
S--Logan Pope, 6-3, 163, Sr.; Lane Reazin, 6-3, 192, Jr.
P--Lane Reazin, 6-3, 192, Jr.
Sept. 6--at El Reno, Okla., W 47-7
Sept. 13--at Garden City
Sept. 20--NORTHWEST CLASSEN HS (OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.)
Sept. 27--PIEDMONT, OKLA.
Oct. 4--at Weatherford, Okla.
Oct. 11--ELGIN, OKLA.
Oct. 17--at Anadarko, Okla.
Oct. 25--at Cache, Okla.
Nov. 1--ELK CITY, OKLA.
Nov. 8--CLINTON, OKLA.