District champs! MHS outscores Hays, 42-35

By Steve Sell
October 31, 2014

Before the season, the general consensus around the state was that McPherson High’s playoff streak of eight years in a row would finally come to an end.

The Bullpups were housed in a district that included defending Class 4A champion Buhler, which was chockfull of returning starters including the potential No. 1 junior in the state, and a Hays team that was dropping down from Class 5A and featured arguably the state’s No. 1 senior recruit.

Some thought the Bullpups had a sliver of hope of perhaps earning a No. 2 finish and first-round road game.

But when this amazing three-week gauntlet ended here Friday night, it was the Bullpups who stood tall and proud with the district championship plaque as they outscored Hays 42-35 for the right to be home next Friday against Mulvane.

The Bullpups completed a 3-0 run against teams that had a combined 17-1 record entering district play.

For MHS’ Tom Young, it’s moments like these that keeps him coaching. His team opened the season being bruised by Salina South and Andale, potential state champions in Class 5A and 4A Division II, respectively. Since then, despite a rash of injuries and a lineup that was cobbled together almost weekly, the Bullpups have reeled off seven straight wins, including the improbable sweep of Buhler and Hays. Buhler advances on with the Bullpups, but the 7-2 Indians are putting the pads away until 2015. Abilene, the forgotten fourth team in the district, finished 0-3 after entering 6-0.

“Our kids just keep getting better every week,” said Young, whose team would have had to go to Ulysses had they finished as the No. 2 finisher. “They knew with our injury situation that they were going to have to play a great game and they really came through.”

A pall was cast over practice this week when it was learned that career total offense leader and three-year starting quarterback Kyler Kinnamon was going to miss the game with a mild shoulder separation. With backup Casen Hoover out nearly all year with a broken leg, Young turned to tight end-defensive end Cody Starkel.

Making his first varsity start at quarterback, the cucumber-cool Starkel led an MHS offense that tenderized Hays’ defense for 433 yards, including 209 passing. Payton Stephens caught six for 100 yards and one score, while Chris Stoppel snatched three, but they were good for 103 yards.

“He’s been a really good quarterback in his high school career,” Young said, as Starkel was a successful JV quarterback at one time. “He just hasn’t had the opportunity to get in there. I think had he been playing all year and starting, he’d be even more impressive. He can really throw the ball. He has a really strong arm and can throw very accurate.”

Hays dared Starkel to throw at the outset, loading the box with up to nine defenders. But once Starkel began to burn the defense, that opened up the running game. 

And that meant Ty Hart, who was a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred, as he high-stepped to 177 yards on an exhaustive 35 carries. He reached the Land of Six four times and also had a crucial interception. He said he knew he had to step up with Kinnamon out and delivered the best performance of his career.

“I didn’t realize it was that many carries,” Young said. “We needed it. They stacked everything up real tight and forced us into the throwing situation, although pass-wise it was difficult because they blitz so much.”

The Bullpups were down 14-0 early as the wondrous Alex Delton ran for a score and threw for another. MHS was able to answer twice in the second quarter on a Collin Baldwin plunge and the first of Hart’s four scores to knot the game at the half.

But after MHS pounded down the field on the first possession of the second half, capped by a Hart 22-yard gallop, the Bullpups grabbed the game by the throat. That score keyed a 28-7 Bullpup run, with Hart scoring two more times and Stephens grabbing a 19-yarder as the lead swelled to 42-21. 

Hays, though, made it Nervous Nellie time, as Delton threw a TD pass to make it 42-27, then the Indians recovered an onside kick and went right down the field to score again to make it 42-35 as it tacked on a deuce.

The final nail, however, was a Baldwin pick of Delton and the Bullpups ran out the clock.

Delton, who has committed to Kansas State, had a tremendous game with 174 yards on 25 carries and two scores, while throwing for 182 and three more scores. But MHS sacked him seven times as the pressure caused him to break containment and freelance.

“He makes things happen,” Young said. “He scrambles around and sometimes he takes off and runs. He’s so fast and elusive and other times he scrambles from one side of the field to the other. It’s hard to stay on those receivers that long.”

MHS and Mulvane were both in Division III last year, but the Wildcats are now in Division IV. They no longer have star running back Michael Mason, who was a handful to defend last year.

• STATISTICS •

• MHS Listed First •

First Downs — 19, 12. Rushes-Yards — 52-224; 31-208. Passing — 10-18-1-209; 6-14-2-182. Punts-Avg. — 3-30.7; 3-41.7. Fumbles-Lost — 1-1; 1-1. Penalties-Yards — 4-35; 4-49.

• INDIVIDUAL LEADERS •

• Rushing •

MHS — Hart 35-177, Nutter 8-34, Starkel 4-11, Baldwin 3-6.

Hays — Delton 25-174, Dryden 1-30, Blackmon 1-2, Rule 1-1, Maddux 1-1, Kreutzer 2-0.

• Passing •

MHS — Starkel 10-18-1-209.

Hays — Delton 6-14-2-182.

• Receiving •

MHS — Stephens 6-100, Stoppel 3-103, Williams 1-6.

Hays — Kreutzer 2-69, Dryden 2-61, Maddux 1-43, Blackmon 1-9.

MHS spikers make Final Four

By Steve Sell
October 31, 2014

SALINA — McPherson High’s volleyball team has advanced to the Class 4A Division I Final Four.

The Bullpups had their backs up against the wall Friday after losing 28-30, 22-25 in their very first match of the day to Louisburg.

But they responded with wins over DeSoto (25-22, 25-20) and Andale (30-28, 25-15) to come out of their pool 2-1.

MHS will play Topeka Hayden in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bicentennial Center. The Bullpups may actually have gotten a good draw since the other semi matches current champion Miege and Louisburg, who lost to the Stags in that title match last year.

The Bullpups are now 35-7 as they attempt to win their second state title in three years. They were the state runner-up in 2011.

Royals' report card yields high grades

By Steve Sell
October 31, 2014

It’s report card time for the Kansas City Royals.

Considering the team came up one run and 90 feet short of sending World Series Game 7 to extra innings, this was a team of scholars. There are a lot of high grades given, though not everybody will be pleased.

The players listed were on the World Series roster or contributed significantly to the Royals’ amazing run.

• C — Salvador Perez. A true warrior and a great defensive catcher. Will probably win a Gold Glove and he provided some homer pop. Once he figures out that he doesn’t have to swing at every pitch, he’s a superstar. Grade — A -

• C — Erik Kratz. If you’re a backup to Perez, you don’t get many chances to play. Grade — C

• 1B — Eric Hosmer. Hosmer hit only nine home runs and quite often got himself out by being overanxious and off balance. But he had a big postseason and is a fine glove man. Grade — B -

• 2B — Omar Infante. Infante’s season was hindered by a bad shoulder, but he was still a clutch RBI man and a solid glove at second. Grade — B

• SS – Alcides Escobar. Great bounceback year for Escobar, who gave the Royals’ brass some anxious moments with his lousy 2013 season. Never had a terrible slump and was sensational in the field. Grade — A -

• 3B — Mike Moustakas. His five postseason home runs erased the stench of a forgettable season. He’s never going to hit for a high average because he stubbornly tries to pull every pitch and can be erratic in the field. He’ll probably get one more year to prove his worth. Grade — C -

• LF — Alex Gordon. Gordon played like he was out of gas at the end of the year. He was a streaky hitter whose power dried up after August. He’ll win another Gold Glove for his play in left field. Grade — B

• CF — Lorenzo Cain. A breakout season for Cain, who hovered around .300 all year and made a spate of highlight-reel catches. All that keeps him from being a straight-A is his surprising lack of power. Grade — A -

• RF — Nori Aoki. Until September, he was a bust. He caught fire at a time when the other Royals were struggling. Wasn’t the on-base machine as advertised and chances are he probably won’t be back as he’s a free agent and the Royals need some pop at his position. Grade —C

• OF — Jarrod Dyson. “Speed Do” was a crackup with his comments and confidence. He gave the Royals an infusion of enthusiasm at times, but also was frustrating with some of his baserunning and throwing gaffes. But he’s a good fourth outfielder, though not starting material. Grade — C+

• OF — Terrance Gore. We don’t really know what he can do, but he sure can run. Grade — Incomplete.

DH — Billy Butler. A long, tough year for Butler, whose power disappeared and he  couldn’t seem to get the ball in the air. He’s a free agent, but it’s hard to imagine the Royals without him. Maybe this year was an aberration. Grade — C

DH — Josh Willingham. Showed a good eye and always gave a professional at bat, but really never made the impact that was expected. He’ll be elsewhere next year. Grade — C -

DH — Raul Ibanez. A great clubhouse guy. That was about it, as he had only one big hit that I can remember. Grade — C-

U — Christian Colon. I wish he’d seen a little more time. He never did anything to hurt the Royals and can play a number of positions. Grade — B

U — Johnny Giavotella. With the emergence of Colon, don’t look for Gio to be around much longer. He can’t seem to translate his minor league success to the majors. Grade — C-

U — Jayson Nix. Did he ever get a hit with the Royals? Grade — D

SP — James Shields. Shields’ grade has to encompass his leadership. He struggled terribly the final two months, but always gave a total effort. He won’t be back unless he takes a discount. Grade — B

SP — Yordano Ventura. If he stays healthy and develops a consistent curveball, the sky is the limit. Grade — A-

SP — Jason Vargas. Gave the Royals just what they signed him for — an innings eater and competent No. 3 man in the rotation. Grade — B

SP — Danny Duffy. He was better than his record, but looked hurt late in the year. He has a problem with keeping calm, but no question the talent is there. Grade — B -

SP — Jeremy Guthrie. At times he looks like the most hittable pitcher in baseball and at times he’s a surgeon by hitting the corners. Feast or famine. Grade — C+

RP — Brandon Finnegan. He pitched in both the College World Series and in the World Series for the Royals. Only one bad outing all year and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. But throw that one out. A possible starter next year. Grade — A -

RP — Aaron Crow. Tough year for Crow as he was wild, had reduced velocity and couldn’t keep the ball in the park. Couldn’t be trusted in a high-stress situation. Grade — C-

RP — Tim Collins. He was a left-handed Crow. Grade — C-

RP — Louis Coleman. Left off the postseason roster. Did well against righties, but lefties wore him out. Grade — C -

RP — Francisely Bueno — Had his moments, but was forgotten by September. Grade — C

RP — Kelvin Herrera — The best seventh-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Wade Davis — The best eighth-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Greg Holland — The best ninth-inning pitcher in baseball. Grade — A

RP — Jason Frasor — A nice pickup. Might be kept around for one more year. Grade —B

RP — Scott Downs — Didn’t really contribute much. Grade — C-

Manager — Ned Yost. For all his strange moves and bluntness with the media, you get a team in the seventh game of the World Series and you must be doing something right. Grade — A-

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Announcements

Everyone is invited to the MHS Junior Class Haunted House and Spook Walk fundraiser TONIGHT at 1752 Mohawk Road from 7-11pm. The first hour will be family friendly for the younger ghouls and goblins, but be prepared to be scared if you dare to stay past 8pm! Suggested donation is $5 for adults through 6th graders and $3 for 5th graders and younger. --

For Sale

Four month old male Australian Blue Heeler puppy, current on all vaccinations, needs fenced back yard or country home -- 245-0290

'99 Chevy Suburban 4WD, new tires and brakes, leather interior, fully loaded $5500/obo -- 620-877-7951

Fluke-289 True-rms Industrial Logging Multimeter kit in great condition -- 620-755-2876

Give Away

Two rabbit hutches, three rabbits, water dispenser and feed -- 620-877-7951

Wanted

Patio bench--metal, aluminum, cast iron or concrete--not wood, in good condition -- 620-585-2271

Yellow stocking cap or beanie to complete a Halloween costume -- 241-8711 or 785-851-0486

Junk batteries of all types and sizes, will pay cash -- 620-755-0448

Space heater in good, used condition -- 241-6372

Announcements

For Rent: 3 Bedroom 1 bath house. 500 N Oak $700 month. Available this weekend. Must have good references, pets with approval. -- 620-242-7015

Haunted House Prom Benefit! 1752 Mohawk Rd. Open 7-11 Wed and Thurs ONLY! For family friendly haunts, come from 7-8. Suggested Donation --

Congratulations to Neal & Monica Dykes! They won the Nooks and Crannies Anniversary floral bouquet. Neil & Monica celebrated 13 years on October 27th. --

For Sale

Mercury 7 1/2 outboard boat motor. Has reverse. Comes with 5 gal gas tank and engine stand $300 -- 620-242-6213

Wanted

Microwave in good shape -- 620-241-4192

Announcements

Everyone is invited to a free educational presentation by a certified Affordable Care Act navigator at the McPherson County Extension office beginning at 6pm TONIGHT. --

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Royals' report card yields high grades

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