Hill, Buffs football look to return to winning ways

BUFFALOES FOOTBALL: Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020

Season Preview


Head Coach: Brian Hill (11th season,  57-41)

2019 Season: Won 2, Lost 7 (WAC, 2-2, 3rd).

In the decade since he became the head football coach at Garden City High School, Brian Hill has guided the Buffaloes to the third-most wins in school history, only behind legendary coaches Dave Meadows and John Dickerson.

In the middle portion of the 2010 decade, Hill’s Buffs advanced to the Class 6A semifinals once (2013) and the quarterfinals another season (2017). The Buffs have also won multiple Western Athletic Conference titles under Hill’s watchful eye. The last two seasons have been an aberration in that success, posting back-to-back 2-7 records.

The 2020 season will be guided by a simple philosophy – cut down turnovers, be better on defense and not give up as many big plays as they have done the past two campaigns.

“We were minus-10 in turnovers last year, so we need to take care of the ball better on offense,” Hill said. “We’ve got have more consistency in our kicking game, too. Staying healthy will be a big key.”

For the Buffs to return to their winning ways, Hill will count on 15 starters returning from the 2019 season that saw them win two WAC games against Hays and Liberal.

Four starters return to anchor the offensive line, which will be the strong part of that side of the ball, Hill said. Two of those returners received honorable mention all-WAC honors in 2019 – senior tackle Trey Nuzum (6-4, 285) and junior Kelvin Rico (5-9, 260). The other two – Ronaldo Ramos (5-10, 265, Sr.) and Kaden Whitehurst (6-0, 235, Jr.) – started all nine games.

Josh Janas (22) enters his senior year after earning all-WAC honors as a running back in his junior season. (Photo courtesy Shrimplin Photography)

That will be the blocking group for senior running back Josh Janas, who rushed for 1,057 yards and scored 12 touchdowns to earn first-team, all-WAC consideration. Janas, a state-caliber wrestler, was the go-to runner on all short-yardage situations last season and will be counted on heavily for the ground game this season.

The quarterback job will likely be in the hands of junior Zane Burns (6-0, 180), who took over the signal-calling duties after then senior starter Carlos Acosta went down with a season-ending injury. Sophomore Caleb Wiese also got some reps under center when Burns, too, suffered an injury.

The strength of the Buffs will likely fall to the defense early on, with 9 starters back in the fold. That group is led by junior tackle Terrell Elliott (6-1, 275) who earned first-team, all-WAC laurels. Junior Ashton Huber was a second-team all-WAC defensive back and will anchor the secondary. Hill said that Nuzum will also seek plenty of action on the defensive side of the ball.

“We should be pretty solid in all areas, but I’d say our defensive line will be the strongest at the start and then our secondary where we have the most experience,” Hill said. “The key early in the season will be to produce positive results to give our kids confidence.”

After two seasons of playing state champion Derby, the Buffs will open on the road at Manhattan on Sept. 4. With the revised schedule, the Buffs will travel to Dodge City in Week 3 on Sept. 18 for the annual Hatchet Game with the Red Demons.

2020 Schedule: Sept. 4—at Manhattan; Sept. 11—HUTCHINSON: Sept. 18—at Dodge City; Sept. 25—HAYS; Oct. 2—at Liberal; Oct. 9—at Wichita Kapaun; Oct. 16—ULYSSES; Oct. 23—GREAT BEND; Oct. 30—Class 6A Playoffs (Week 9).

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