Playoff seeding on the line in Mustangs’ football finale

Two-win Ark City seeks to deny Central its sixth victory of the season


Junior wide receiver Dez Gibson hopes to celebrate more touchdowns in tonight’s game at Ark City. Gibson is part of a receiving corps that has racked up over 1,200 receiving yards this season.

The Salina Central Mustangs and the Ark City Bulldogs are clashing for their final game of the season.

A win for the Mustangs could solidify a first-round playoff home game but the Bulldogs are playing to avoid highly ranked opponents early in playoffs.

“They’ve got a lot to play for,” Head Coach Mark Sandbo said. “It’s senior night and they’re trying to nudge up their seeding.”

Even though the Bulldogs are 2-5, Sandbo thinks they’re better than what their record shows.

“They’re a good football team,” Sandbo said. “They’ve played a lot of teams really tight and they’re well coached.”

Sandbo expects the offense to have the same firing power that it has had in past weeks, with a heavy rush attack led by senior running back Kenyon McMillan with air support from junior quarterback Gunnar Gross with a wide receiver core that has racked up 1,204 yards this season.

“Kenyon and Gunnar will have a lot of things go through them,” Sandbo said. “Hunter Mowery could have a big game, Dez Gibson could have a big game, Trevon Cole comes in there and is extremely explosive.”

Keeping players healthy is also a point of focus as the playoffs approach, Sandbo said.

They will be using a rotation of running backs in order to take the load off of McMillan, who gets a large majority of the carries.

“We don’t want to bang him up as much as possible,” Sandbo said. “We”ll continue to have Avery Richardson and Elijah Wilson bring something to the table.”

A big point of importance in this game is stopping the comeback. The Mustangs allowed multiple double-digit leads to shrink to one-possession wins this season, a trend that Sandbo would like to see disappear before the postseason starts.

“I’d like to get a big lead and then build on it,” Sandbo said. “We haven’t as much done that, but that’s the quality of opponents we’re playing.”

Through defensive struggles, the Mustangs defense could catch a break against a Bulldog offense that scores only 22 points per game.

The main point of concern for the defense is tackling, but they have been improving, Mustang defensive coordinator Austin Kingsbury said.

“When guys are in the right spot, we have to capitalize by making tackles,” Kingsbury said. “We have a lot of great players on our side of the ball, we just need to make more plays when we have the opportunity.”

Defensive coaches have been making halftime adjustments to help with maintaining leads in the second half.

“Some of that definitely falls on us, as a defensive coaching staff,” Kingsbury said. “Our coaches are always working hard at making adjustments throughout the whole game, but we just need to be better coming out of the half.”

Sandbo believes that the Mustangs will have to play very good football in order to beat Ark City.

“We have to do things well offensively and with special teams,” Sandbo said. “If we don’t, Ark City will make us pay.”