It may be only a cameo, but McPherson High’s football team will take it.
After opening the season with two road games against state-ranked teams, the Bullpups finally make their much-anticipated home debut Friday night when Winfield comes to town.
However after that game, it’s right back on the road as MHS plays its next two games away from the friendly McPherson Stadium confines. Fortunately, the Bullpups close with three of their final four at home.
Kickoff for the ‘Pups and Vikings is 7 p.m. Join 96.7 KBBE’s Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner for the call, with the pre-game starting at 6:30.
“It’s great to be home,” said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team went 1-1 against the road gauntlet of state-ranked powers Buhler and Maize South. “We love playing at home. We always have great crowds here. And we’re coming off a tough loss, so we’re glad to be home.”
MHS opened the season with a rousing 33-21 victory over Buhler, but then went flat offensively last week in a 9-0 loss to Maize South, which has not allowed a point in its first two games.
“I go to my go-to phrase, but it’s never as bad as it is and never as good as it is,” Pavlovich said. “It is true. We did some really good things up front. Our outside zone scheme, we have not run that as well as we did in 13 years as last Friday night. We found something that our offensive line is very good at, very good. We just failed to finish drives off. Hindsight is 20-20 and I beat myself up, but we should have kicked a field goal that first drive. But we just marched down the field on them and I thought this was the way it was going to be all night.”
Winfield is 1-1, coming off a 32-16 win over Circle after being down 9-6 at the half. The Vikings traditionally have struggled against the Bullpups, especially at the start of games.
“They’re a tough team to figure out, but they’re very well coached,” Pavlovich said. “Coach (Linn) Hibbs is a great coach. He’s won multiple state championships. If something good happens for them early, they’re going to be a tough team.”
It will be a challenge for the MHS defense to shut down the Vikes’ running game. Kyle Sawyer had 125 yards on 17 carries last week and Jack Mull added 70 on just seven tries. The Vikings do struggle in the passing game as Hayden Gibson and KC Crandall split time last week, though Crandall did go 4 of 6 for 52 yards. But there’s not a real home-run threat in the receiving game.
That should play right into the Bullpups’ hands as they have been lights-out against the run.
The goal this week is to get the offense rebooted. After a 33-point point outburst against Buhler, MHS did little last week outside of the first two drives.
“Our run game was effective last week. Jace (Kinnamon) ran well on our outsize zone scheme, but we have to be able to assert ourselves in our downhill run scheme,” Pavlovich said. “And we have to be able to pass protect. That’s something we were not able to do very well last week. Kyler (Hoppes) was running for his life. We had guys open, but when you have somebody constantly in your face you’re not going to be able to deliver the football.”
It was at this point last year where the Bullpups started to take off as their rout of Winfield was the firestarter to eight straight victories before losing to Maize South in the second round of the playoffs.
“Our guys want to get back into the win column,” Pavlovich said. “You know what these guys are made of. They hate losing.”