CIK Season Preview: Great Bend makes move to Class 4A
WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) -
The Great Bend Panthers are preparing for a season of new challenges, not only with COVID-19 but also competing in Class 4A.
With the start of official practice on August 17th, the Panthers finally had a chance to get back to normal. "Since June 1st, we've been in t-shirts and shorts," said Great Bend Head Coach Erin Beck. "Now this week, we can finally get the pads back on and hit someone in a different color jersey."
Due to restrictions and cancellations from COVID-19, the Panthers, like all other teams, stayed at home this summer. They did not travel to camps or 7-on-7 competitions. "It felt like being stuck in a weird limbo this summer," said Coach Beck.
The Panthers are working to keep their players safe with masks on the sideline, limiting the numbers in the locker room at one time, and looking to take a smaller travel squad to away games this year.
Great Bend also sees a different challenge this year with its classification. For at least this season and next, the Panthers will compete in Class 4A for football. "The west in 4A is so wide open," said Coach Beck.
The only 4A team on their schedule is a week three trip to face the McPherson Bullpups. All the rest of the schools they will face come from Class 5A or 6A.
The Panthers finished last year with a 5 and 5 record. They made it to the second round of the playoffs before falling to Wichita Northwest.
They graduated many experienced players on both sides of the ball. The notable graduate is Dalton Miller, who won the West MVP at this year's Shrine Bowl.
"We graduated 98.9% of our offensive production from last year," said Coach Beck. "Trying to find some kids to step up into key roles is important." Joesph Moeder will take over as quarterback. He will be handing off the ball to Jake Popp and Gavin Haberman.
Defensively Great Bend lost a lot of the backside to graduation. The line holds the most experience with Elias Moreno anchoring upfront.
"Trying to live one day at a time now and focus on Maize South right now," said Coach Beck. Great Bend will travel to face the Class 5A power for their first game.
They then return home to face rival and fellow Western Athletic Conference foe, Hays. The Panthers take to the road again the next week for a trip to lone 4A opponent McPherson.
Week Four brings Kapaun Mount Carmel to Great Bend. The following week, the Panthers make the familiar trip to face Dodge City.
Week Six sees the Panthers hosting Liberal followed by another home game against Goddard-Eisenhower.
The Panthers end the regular season with a trip to Garden City in a game that usually has implications for the WAC championship.
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