Buffaloes shut out Wichita West on way to rout

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School running back Zack Keosengphet, left, cuts off a block by lineman Michael Camarena on a run for a first down Friday against Wichita West at Buffalo Stadium.

It seems like one of those small things in a 48-minute football game that ended with a 49-0 romp by the Garden City High School Buffaloes over the Wichita West Pioneers.

The victory improved the Buffs to 2-1 while West dropped to 1-2.

But when one goes back to look how the Buffs arrived at their biggest win since the regular season-ending 2020 rout of Great Bend, you only need to look at a defensive play by senior lineman Terrell Elliott to understand what Old Man Momentum can do for a team.

The Buffs offense had taken the game’s opening drive from their own 20 and marched all the way to the Pioneers’ 8-yard line and had consumed 9 minutes, 46 seconds off the clock. But a penalty moved them back 10 yards and the drive stalled on a 4th-and-13 play when Caleb Wiese’s pass was picked off in the end zone by West.

West’s drive, though, didn’t fare well, either, and it was then that Elliott, a massive 6-2, 305-pounder, turned the game around. On second down, he swatted West quarterback Kobey Figures’ pass up into the air, and then dove to scoop the ball in for a big interception.

That set up the Buffs at the West 12-yard line and it took only one play and the Buffs were in the end zone on a Zack Keosengphet scamper. Isaac Rivera’s PAT kick was good, making it 7-0 with just 29 seconds left in the opening stanza.

Garden City High School defensive lineman Terrell Elliott (45) celebrates with teammate Alan Chairez and others Friday after Elliott intercepted a tipped Wichita West pass in the Pioneers' backfield at Buffalo Stadium.

“I broke through the line, I hit the ball and I looked up and it was still in the air,” Elliott said. “I knew I couldn’t catch it and run it back, so I had to dive for it. So I did. Just batted the ball and chase it down.”

With a stiff wind of nearly 20 miles per hour from the northeast causing havoc for both teams going into the gale, yards were hard to come by at times, especially for the Pioneers against the Buffs’ defense which continues to improve with each week.

“I hope this continues to show people that we have a stellar defense and one of the best in Kansas,” Elliott said. “It’s a big confidence boost for us.”

While the Buffs didn’t race off to a quick explosion on offense, it did set the table for what transpired later. Another short punt, this one of just two yards, left the Buffs’ offense starting at the Pioneers’ 5-yard line at the outset of the second quarter.

Emmanuel Charite was the beneficiary this time as the senior running back dashed in for a TD, and Rivera’s successful PAT kick made it 14-0 with 11:03 left before halftime.

“We played pretty sloppy in the first half,” head Coach Brian Hill said. “A lot of discipline penalties that we had to clean up. To our kids’ credit, they came back the second half and did what they needed to do.”

Hill bemoaned the little things on offense that short-circuited the Buffs’ offense.

“It wasn’t until the second half that we saw improvement,” Hill said. “We were still patting ourselves on the back a little back after the Hutch win (13-7, Overtime). The seniors showed a lot of leadership and came out and really dominated the second half.”

Whatever Hill said to his squad at halftime, seemed to have lit a match for the Buffs.

Garden City High School's Alan Chairez, left, and Saul Perez move in to drop Wichita West's running back Zavion Parks-Clarke for a loss on a carry Friday at Buffalo Stadium.

It was a complete domination on both sides of the ball as the Buffs exploded for 21 points in the third quarter and added on two more TDs in the fourth as the 42-point running clock went into effect with 10:25 remaining in the game.

The third quarter saw Caleb Wiese intercept a Figures pass at the Pioneer 40-yard line and then junior running back Colin Kleysteuber raced that 40 yards for a TD and Rivera’s kick made it 21-0 with 8:02 on the clock. After a change of possession, the Buffs got the ball back and it was Charite scoring for the second time on a nifty 27-yard scamper down the right sideline with a cutback at about the 10-yard line. Rivera again had a successful PAT kick to up the advantage to 28-0 with 6:11 showing.

Later, it was back to Kleysteuber for his second scoring jaunt, this one from 13 yards out and Rivera’s kick made it 35-0 with 2:49 left in the third. Game. Set. Match.

The fourth quarter was every bit the same as the Buffs’ defense continued to limit the Pioneers to just miniscule yardage and then putting the ball back in the hands of the ground-oriented offense.

Senior running back Michael Varela got into the scoring act with a 6-yard run at the 10:25 mark and Ryan Pilosof capped off the scoring barrage with a 2-yard plunge with 1:43 remaining. Rivera kicked his sixth and seventh PATs to make it 49-0.

While Hill said the Buffs would enjoy the win over the weekend, he was already looking to the first Western Athletic Conference game of the 2021 campaign next week at Hays, where they will take on the 3-0 Indians, who were the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions.

“Hays is a great football team and we know we have our hands full,” Hill said. “But we’ll go back to work on Monday and get ourselves ready.”

Elliott concurred.

“This is a big motivational booster and Hays is a great team,” Elliott said. “We’ve proven we’re a great team. We can play with the best of them. Everybody still has things to work on, but we’ve got great things in the future.”

From the opening-season setback at home to Manhattan (21-6) to the big win on the road over Hutchinson in Week 2 (13-7, OT) to the romp over the Pioneers, Hill has seen his team improve each week.

“We’re still a long way from where we’d like to be as a team, especially on offense,” Hill said. “But as we continue to clean up those mistakes, we’re slowly but surely making strides. The kids have gained confidence with the two wins so we’re excited about the opportunity to go to Hays.”

After the Hays road game on Sept. 24, the Buffs will return home to face Liberal on Oct. 1, travel to Wichita East on Oct. 8 before hosting rival Dodge City on Oct. 15 in the annual Hatchet Game. The regular season closes out with a road game on Oct. 22 at Great Bend before the Oct. 29 Week 9 Play-In game to determine KSHSAA postseason playoff positioning.

In other Friday games of Sept. 17 in the WAC, it was Dodge City 35, Wichita South 19; Hays 58, Liberal 14; and McPherson 34, Great Bend 19. Next week’s games of Sept. 24 will have Great Bend taking on Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel at Stryker Stadium in Wichita; Wichita-Bishop Carroll at Dodge City and Liberal at Wichita-Southeast.

Wichita West  0; 0; 0; 0; -- 0

Garden City  7; 7; 21; 14; -- 49

First Quarter

GC—Zack Keosengphet 12 run (Isaac Rivera kick), 7-0, 0:29.

Second Quarter

GC—Emmanuel Charite 5 run (Rivera kick), 14-0, 11:03.

Third Quarter

GC—Colin Kleysteuber 40 run (Rivera kick), 21-0, 9:35.

GC—Emmanuel Charite, 27 run (Rivera kick), 28-0, 6:11.

GC—Colin Kleysteuber, 13 run (Rivera kick), 35-0, 2:49.

Fourth Quarter

GC—Michael Varela 6 run (Rivera kick), 42-0, 10:25.

GC—Ryan Pilosof, 2 run (Rivera kick), 49-0, 1:43.