The final 30 minutes of Garden City High School’s football season-opening loss vs. Derby provided a foundation on which to build for the Buffaloes (0-1).
They scored their only three touchdowns of the game in the second half, and showed the fight they will need for the rest of the season, starting with Friday’s road game at Valley Center (0-1).
“The way we finished the game is something we can build on,” GCHS head coach Brian Hill said. “This team has been really good listening to coaching, and we’ve emphasized things each week that we’re prepared and we’ve got another set of goals we want to accomplish this week throughout practice.
“We’ve got to stay on blocks, we’ve got to finish tackles and we’ve to play a little bit better assignment football. And we’ve got to get off blocks on the defensive line.”
Staying on blocks may be the big key for the offense, which struggled to get much going on the ground vs. the Panthers. Quarterback Carlos Acosta threw for more yards (171) vs. Derby than in all but one regular season game a year ago.
But the Buffs ran for just 91 yards on 39 carries, a 2.3 yards per carry average.
“It’s finishing blocks,” Hill said. “A lot of times, we were only one guy away from rather than 4 or 5 yards, making it 10 or 12 yards. That’s something the continuity of the offensive line has helped us, but we were just missing little pieces here and there — running by people.”
The Buffs are returning just 38 percent of their rushing production from a year ago, after starting running back Reece Morss graduated. Acosta had 414 rushing yards himself, but Erik Dominguez is the Buffs’ next highest rusher returning this year, and he had 56 yards a year ago as a freshman.
Now, as a sophomore, Dominguez had 10 carries for seven yards vs. Derby to open his season. Josh Janas added 55 yards on 15 carries, much of that coming in the second half.
“I think we’ll be better than that this coming week,” Hill said.
Valley Center is also coming off a blowout loss, dropping a 47-0 decision to Maize in the opener.
“They played a really good Maize team that did a good job,” Hill said. “They made some msitakes like every team did. They gave up two defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown, and that’s tough to overcome, especially against a good team like Maize. I know they feel like they can get better.”
A year ago, the Hornets upended the Buffs, 41-20, at Buffalo Stadium. Now, the Buffs make the return trip.
“We talk about business trips,” Hill said of taking the team on the road, when the Buffs went 0-5 as visitors a year ago. “Our kids, they’re used to traveling, and three hours isn’t going to be a big deal for them.
“I think our kids kind of carry a chip on their shoulder. They know when they go on the road, that it’s kind of us against the world. We’ve got to go and try to take their crowd out of it early and do some of the things we need to do.”