Marshall: I might need a prescription

11/16/2013

I might need a prescription

I might need a prescription

Another heart-stopper.

I'm going to have to get a prescription for anxiety.

My blood pressure, which was in sound order when at the doctor earlier in the week, surely must have soared.

My pulse was racing out of control.

That's what it was like in the frantic closing minutes of yet another wild and crazy Friday night of watching the Garden City Buffaloes football team.

For what now seems like more than half the season, the Buffs have been playing on borrowed time.

Even coach Brian Hill has said it's like playing a one-game season — every week.

Since week seven of the regular season — the first week of a 3-game district schedule — the Buffs have had nothing but late heroics to pull out wins.

Otherwise, their season would have ended much, much earlier.

As it now stands, they are one of four Class 6A teams that will step on a football field next Friday, this time at No. 1-ranked Derby, in the state semifinals. On the line will be a berth in the state championship game scheduled for Nov. 30 at Washburn University in Topeka.

The last time a Buffalo team reached the semifinals was 2005, when they lost to Hutchinson, 32-15.

On Friday night, it was like watching another chess match with the GCHS coaching staff matching wits with their counterparts from Wichita Heights.

At halftime, things just didn't look good for the Buffs.

They trailed 21-14 and would at one point fall behind by a 28-14 margin early in the third quarter.

But the Buffs' coaching staff made some adjustments in the way they defensed the Heights' vaunted veer-option offense, and after being bullied around for 271 yards in the first half, yielded only 140 in the second half. To make it even more impressive, consider that 62 of that came on one play on the Falcons' lone scoring drive of the second half.

"We rotated our secondary coverage and rolled into a new set that we hadn't shown all year," said Drew Thon, GCHS co-defensive coordinator, said afterward. "It's just one of those games where you had to do something different."

Some have called it the bend-but-don't break defense. In the case of the Buffs, their rubber band had been stretched to its limit in the opening 24 minutes.

But give credit where credit is due.

These Buffs dug deep. In this case, they were using everything not only in their playbook, but also everything they could find in their heart, and soul. And believe me, if there's nothing else about the Buffs, it is their heart. They never give up.

"It's amazing, the best feeling ever," a jubilant safety Dozie Ekweariri said following the victory. "It just shows the character of this group. These guys don't know what quit means. They find a way. They deserve everything that they have accomplished."

It seems like when their backs are against the proverbial wall, they somehow rally the troops and find a way to win. You can't coach heart, for that comes from within.

Hill has said all along that the success of this group of seniors — all 27 of them who were freshmen when Hill became their coach — has come from their hard work and dedication in the offseason — their willingness to get in the weight room, the summer camps, studying film. All of that has paid off.

If you don't believe me, consider this:

When the Buffs of 2010 and these freshmen were trying to figure out how to win games at that level, the Buffs went to Wichita Heights for a first-round playoff game and were saddled with an embarrassing 49-7 loss that could have been much worse. The next year, in the second round, it was a 35-3 pasting by the Falcons that ended the Buffs' season. In those two seasons, Heights won a state title and was runner-up. At least the Buffs knew what a state power team looked like, even from a distance.

But here and now, the Buffs have perhaps arrived.

Only Derby, the team everybody says will win Class 6A, stands in the way of this herd of Buffaloes from finding their way to Topeka in two weeks.

Only Derby, which has mowed down their 6A foes all season, including Heights by a 28-6 count, can keep this team of destiny from its final destination.

As those of faith have said many times, for many years, "Do you believe in miracles?"

After Friday night, I certainly do. And one more would not surprise me either.

It's become quite difficult to stop this stampede.

Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at bmarshall@gctelegram.com

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