Coveting the Hatchet: Buffs travel to Dodge for grudge game


Neither Brian Hill nor Dave Foster have prepared any pre-game pep talks for Friday's 7 p.m. battle for The Hatchet at Dodge City's Memorial Stadium.

None needed.

All that has to be said is to look at the schedule and see that it is Garden City at Dodge City. Buffaloes vs. Red Demons.

It's all about The Hatchet.

Nope, there will be no Knute Rockne, Notre Dame "win one for the Gipper" talks this week. No Lou Holtz locker room motivational speeches.

While Garden's season has been solid the Buffs are 5-3 overall, 2-1 in the Western Athletic Conference and 1-1 in Class 6A-District 8 play the Red Demons season has gone from sweet to sour. Thanks to a defense that has not played well, by Foster's standards, the Red Demons enter the game on a four-game losing streak and are 3-5 overall, 1-3 in the WAC and 0-2 in the district.

Despite the fact the Red Demons are winless in the district, mathematically, they still have a chance to earn the second district spot in the playoffs behind Hutchinson. And so do the Buffaloes. The Kansas State High School Activities Association utilizes a "marginal point" formula in breaking ties in district play when teams finish with the same records.

In the current district standings, Garden City and Maize are at 1-1 with Maize having minus-2 points (calculated by a 5-point loss to Garden and a 3-point win against Dodge); Garden is at a minus-8 by figuring its big loss to Hutchinson a week ago resulted in a minus-13 points (the most any team can be awarded or have deducted) and the plus-5 for its win over Maize; Dodge City is at minus-16.

If Dodge City were to win the game by four points, and Maize loses to Hutchinson by more than 10 points, all three teams would be at 1-2 with Dodge and Garden finishing with a minus-12 points. Maize would then be at a minus-13 or higher depending on their margin of loss to Hutch. Theoretically, if Garden were to lose the game by three points or less, they would still get the district qualifying runner-up spot by virtue of a better marginal point total.

"I hadn't even thought about district points or whatever," Hill said Wednesday in his mid-week interview with The Telegram. "Ultimately, you're trying to win the game, especially this one. If you had the same scenario with another team, another game, you might do something different. But in this game, you win it any way you can. You don't worry about the other stuff."

If your head isn't dizzy from the number-crunching formula, then consider some of the historical background on this all-important game.

The annual grudge match between the only two Class 6A schools west of Hutchinson dates back to 1903, when the teams first met on the field. Since then, the Red Demons have dominated the historical rivalry by a 70-35-4 count. Since the teams began battling for the coveted Hatchet in 1937, Dodge has owned a 47-26-1 advantage.

For the past 12 months, though, the Hatchet has resided in Garden City, thanks in part to a heroic comeback by the Buffaloes that culminated in an 18-15 double-overtime Buffs' victory in 2011, when Tony Rubio scored from six yards out after Dodge's Dillon Burkhard had booted a 27-yard field goal, his fifth of the game, in the second extra period.

"It's an easy week to motivate," Hill said of the mindset of his team 48 hours prior to kickoff. "This game is all about execution. You throw everything else out. It's about community pride. Anything else is icing."

Hill and Foster, both successful and now in the late stage of their third season at their respective schools, know what it feels like to win a game you may well have deserved to lose and conversely what it feels like to lose a game that you likely feel as though you should have won.

Two years ago in Dodge, the Buffs roared out to a 26-0 lead midway through the second quarter only to see the Red Demons score just before halftime and then put on a miraculous rally in the second half, producing a dramatic 29-26 triumph. Then, it was turning the table time for the Buffs, who barely had the ball 14 minutes a year ago, but kept the Red Demons out of the end zone, each time forcing Burkhard to boot a 3-pointer.

"One thing about it, it's a great environment," said Dodge City's Foster. "That first year (2010) was a pretty good top-end class for us and we didn't have a lot of younger kids invested in the weight room at the time. We're paying for that lack of commitment right now, but the kids we've got are good kids and working hard. We just don't have the numbers that you need, especially when you lose some to injuries and you try to fill in. We've got guys going both ways, but I'm sure coach Hill would tell you the same thing. There's a lot of parallels between the schools, and the communities."

The lack of a running game also has plagued the Red Demons this season, as they average just 100.3 yards on the ground while Air Dodge has produced 278.9 yards a game. Junior quarterback Kelan Newton (6-5, 185) has thrown for 2,095 yards and 17 touchdowns and has suffered six interceptions. His Garden City counterpart, junior Greyson Tempel, struggled mightily against Hutchinson in the 56-14 loss, but still has accounted for 1,316 passing yards (112-of-199 and six interceptions) while rushing for 851 yards and 10 TDs.

"With a running quarterback who is multi-dimensional, when he can shake loose, he's a difference maker," Foster said of Tempel. "The key is can you get him to the ground quickly. For us Friday night depends on if we can corral him."

Defensively, Foster said his team will have to shore up many areas if they are to be successful against the Buffs. Offensively, he's not afraid to get in a scoring shootout as they did in their recent 54-51 loss to Maize.

"Garden's defense runs to the ball well and they're very physical up front," Foster said. "They don't have a (Gabe) Luna type player, but they like to bring the heat to you. I'm sure they're not going to sit back and let (Kelan) Newton sling it."

For Hill, the game represents all that is good about high school athletic competition.

"Coach Foster does things the right way, and in the first two years we've played them, it's been the cleanest, most fairest-played game I've been a part of," Hill said. "We're both probably beat up a little. Kids are battered and bruised, but you don't hurt as bad when you're playing a rivalry game. The adrenaline does a lot to make you feel better."

A Buffalo victory assures them of a second-place finish in the WAC and a third consecutive trip to the 6A playoffs. As a runner-up team, they would be on the road the following Friday for a first-round game, perhaps headed back to Wichita where they may face Heights or Derby, which are battling for that district title on Friday. Pairings will be announced by KSHSAA on Saturday morning.


Know the Foe

Who: Garden City at Dodge City

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Dodge City Memorial Stadium

Last Meeting: 2011, Garden City, 18-15, 2 OT.

Series: 110th meeting.

Overall Since 1903: Dodge City 70-35-4.

Hatchet Game Since 1937: Dodge City 47-26-1.


Garden City

Class: 6A, District 8

League: Western Athletic Conference

Mascot: Buffaloes (Brown/White)

Coach: Brian Hill, (3rd year, 17-11, .607)

Probable Starting lineup


T--Alex Ortiz, 6-3, 285, So.; Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.

G--Ian Jones, 5-10, 205, Sr.; Ben Blood, 6-5, 275, Sr.

C--Mitch Moore, 6-1, 245, Sr.

TE--Taylor Foley, 6-2, 220, Sr.

WR--Dustin Tempel, 5-10, 165, Jr.; Bo Banner, 6-1, 165, Sr.;

FB--Brady Bean, 5-11, 200, Sr.

TB--Jared Koster, 5-8, 150, Fr.

QB--Greyson Tempel, 5-10, 175, Jr.

PK--Rudy Chavez, 5-8, 150, Sr.


E--Andres Rivas, 6-3, 205, Sr.; Kieran Henderson, 5-9, 205, Sr.

T--Humberto Perez, 6-0, 215, So.; Quinton Mead, 5-10, 210, Jr.

LB--Todd Savolt, 5-8, 180, Sr.; Brady Bean, 5-11, 200, Sr.

S--Hunter Delgado, 6-1, 165, Jr.; Dozie Ekweariri, 5-8, 145 Jr.; Emilio Parr, 6-2, 175, Jr.

CB--Denton Keller, 5-10, 170, Sr.; Dustin Tempel, 5-10, 165, Jr.

P--Mitchell Hernandez, 5-9, 170, Jr.


2012 Results (5-3, 2-1 WAC, 1-1 District 8)

Aug. 31--BIXBY, OKLA., L 42-7

Sept. 7--at Woodward, Okla., W 17-7

Sept. 14--at Great Bend#, W 45-28

Sept. 21--HAYS#, L 29-21

Sept. 28--LIBERAL#, W 37-14

Oct. 5--at Wichita East, W 34-13

Oct. 12--MAIZE*, W 31-26

Oct. 19--at Hutchinson*, L 56-14

Oct. 26--at Dodge City*#

*--Denotes Class 6A District-8 game

#--Denotes Western Athletic Conference game

Dodge City High

Class: 6A, District 8

League: Western Athletic Conference

Mascot: Red Demons (Scarlet/Royal)

Coach: Dave Foster, (3rd year, 19-11, .727)

Probable Starting Lineup


T--Bryce Sonday, 6-3, 220, Sr.; Alfredo Hernandez, 6-0, 230, Sr.

G--Jacob Harshberger, 6-3, 215, Jr.; Justin Gemaehlich, 6-2, 275, Sr.

C--Chris Brownback, 6-3, 230, Sr.

WR--Dakota Duckett, 6-2, 198, Sr.; Taylor Murphy, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Jordan Doan, 6-0, 165, Sr.; Immanuel Galloway, 6-0, 170, Jr.

RB--Parker Davis, 6-0, 205, Sr.

QB--Kelan Newton, 6-5, 185, Jr.

PK--Dillon Burkhard, 5-9, 145, Jr.


E--Ryan Lomas, 5-10, 175, Jr.; CollinGifford, 6-1, 175, Sr.

T--Justin Gemaehlich, 6-2, 275, Sr.; Jacob Harshberger, 6-3, 215, Jr.

LB--Parker Davis, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Layton Ediger, 6-2, 185, So.

S--Taylor Murphy, 6-1, 170, Sr.; Immanuel Galloway, 6-0, 170, Jr.; Jordan Doan, 6-0, 165, Sr.

CB--Trace Pike, 5-9, 145, Sr.; Rashaan Taylor, 6-0, 170, Sr.

P--Dillon Burkhard, 5-9, 145, Jr.


2012 Results (3-5, 1-2 WAC, 0-2 District 8)


Sept. 7--at Wichita Northwest, W 31-14

Sept. 14--WICHITA HEIGHTS, L 39-24

Sept. 21--at Liberal#, W 62-48

Sept. 28--GREAT BEND#, L 24-7

Oct. 5--at Hays#, L 52-31

Oct. 12--HUTCHINSON*, L 49-17

Oct. 19--at Maize*, L 54-51

Oct. 26--GARDEN CITY#*

*--Denotes Class 6A District-8 game

#--Denotes Western Athletic Conference game