After going 0-3 to start the season, the only thing that matters now for the Garden City Buffaloes is the 1-0. That’s the Buffs’ WAC record after a 35-32 win at Hays on Friday night in their league opener.
Everything else is in the Buffs’ rearview mirror.
“It’s always great to get a win, and start WAC 1-0,” GCHS head coach Brian Hill said this week as the Buffs prepare for Friday’s 7 p.m. kick-off at Liberal. “It’s carried over a little bit. We had a pretty good Tuesday practice and hopefully we can carry it on and start putting wins together.”
To do so, the Buffs have to put together another road win like they did at Hays.
“I think any time you can go on the road and win a WAC game, it’s important,” Hill said. “You’ve got to go steal one or two of them on the road (in league play), and you’ve got to protect your home field.”
Liberal is 2-2 overall but 0-1 in the WAC, losing 13-12 to Hays in overtime on Sept. 20. Liberal also lost, 33-26, to Wichita Southeast last week. But that doesn’t mean Liberal isn’t dangerous.
“I think they’ve been in every game they have played. The two games they have lost have been by single digits,” Hill said. “They’ve really improved, and going on the road and playing a second WAC game in a row is going to be difficult for us.”
The Buffs broke out of their early-season skid by leaning on the running game, and in particularly on junior running back Josh Janas, who ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. They also got 60 yards and a score from senior quarterback Carlos Acosta, but he was hurt in the fourth quarter vs. Hays and likely will not play at Liberal. That likely means it’s up to sophomore quarterback Zane Burns, who was at the helm of the Buffs’ offense as they mounted their go-ahead touchdown march.
The Buffs also got a breakout game from freshman Jerry Arteaga, who hauled in two big third-down catches to convert, including one on the game-winning touchdown drive.
Meanwhile, Liberal’s offense is helmed by the dangerous Syrus Dunlap, who has a handful of touchdowns from 40 yards or longer this season.
“They have a good QB, and we’re going to have to get to him pretty fast,” GCHS senior linebacker Paul Perez — who leads the team with 38 tackles — said.
GCHS notes: Garden City leads series 51-47-3 and has won 11-consecutive vs. Liberal.