After 13 seasons as the head football coach at Great Bend, Bo Black was itching to make a move. Where he ended up was at Hays High, the Panthers’ big Western Athletic Conference rival.
The Hatfields and the McCoys got along better than the Indians and Panthers.
“Quite honestly, I don’t think I was smart enough to think it all through at the time,” said Black, who was hired in February to replace Ryan Cornelsen, who left Hays High after five successful seasons to become the head coach at state power Hutchinson.
Black was 83-47 at Great Bend, with eight WAC titles and eight playoff appearances, including state runner-up in Class 5A in 2006. However, Black’s Panthers had losing seasons three of the last six years.
“I was looking to go,” Black said. “I really thought at the end of last year I really needed to do something different. … Quite honestly, kind of looking for a community like Great Bend in a lot of ways. Just professionally I wanted to start over, see if I could do it again.”
Black is a proponent of the spread offense, where you need a topnotch quarterback at the controls. Someone like Alex Delton.
Delton, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior who is entering his third year as the starter, verbally committed to Kansas State University in February and plans to sign his letter-of-intent on Thursday. He is scheduled to graduate from Hays High in December and enroll at KSU in January.
Delton threw for 1,198 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore and added 640 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Last season, when he was slowed by a groin injury and missed two games, the Indians relied on a rushing attack. Delton still managed 1,000 yards in total offense and 18 touchdowns.
Black expects Delton to flourish in his pass-happy attack.
“He fits it exactly,” Black said. “It’s been fun to get back into something I haven’t done in a long time with that kind of quarterback, so it’s been a lot of fun for me.
“Not only does it fit Alex, but it fits the personnel you have here. It’s been a long time since been able to do some of that stuff. It’s been a lot of fun to watch it develop.”
With a tailback who gobbled up yards last season, Delton didn’t need to throw as often. Black said his quarterback was looking forward to running the new offense.
“Alex, you go back and read the stats he’s had, and he was kind of sitting in an offense where he would hand it off about 80 percent of the time,” Black said. “Yeah, he’s excited about it.”
Black also knows, however, the team is more than just a standout quarterback.
“To be quite honest, we have a superstar quarterback, but that left guard is just as important, that defensive end is just as important as him, because we need all of them,” he said.
Hays High will go with a 4-3 base defense.
“There’s a few spots with question marks, but there’s a lot back from last year,” Black said. “There’s some physical kids over there that are playing extremely well. There’s just not a lot of depth.”
Hays High moves down from Class 5A this year to Class 4A Division I. After his team opens the season at Olathe Northwest, Hays High will be at Great Bend in Week 2 - with Black on the other sideline.
“I knew what a rivalry it was,” Black said of leaving Great Bend for Hays High. “Tried to put that aside, see what was best for my family.”