GREAT BEND, Kan. The Great Bend Panthers look to win back-to-back Western Athletic Conference titles and make another deep run in the Class 5A playoffs in 2019. To do so, they will need several road victories with only three home games all season.
Fourth year Head Coach Erin Beck hands the reigns of the offense to quarterback Dalton Miller. He takes over for Koy Brack, who graduated and also represented the Panthers at the Shrine Bowl in July.
Miller brings a more mobile style of play to the backfield. The last Great Bend quarterback to play that way was Jacob Murray.
"He's pretty electric with the ball in his hands," said Coach Beck. "Dalton can get outside of the pocket and make things happen with his legs."
Great Bend brings back a lot of the defensive players from last year. Players like Barrett Lutt, Elias Moreno, and Zack Seymour will make up the core of the defensive line and linebackers. Some of those players got snaps last year, but this year they will be in the starting slots.
A top goal of the team is to repeat as Western Athletic Conference champions. Great Bend has not done this under Coach Beck. To accomplish this, Great Bend will play three of their four WAC games on the road at Hays, Dodge City, and Garden City.
The Panthers host Andover, Wichita Northwest, and Liberal. The rest of the schedule will be away games at Hays, Dodge City, Bishop Carroll, Andover Central, and Garden City.
More than 20 of the almost 80 players on the roster are seniors. These seniors were freshmen when Coach Beck took over the program four years ago.
"I told these seniors to enjoy every moment out here with each other because it goes fast," said Coach Beck. "I have a special part in my heart for these guys. It's something special to see them come full circle and become leaders on this team."