I’ve been covering high school and college football for 42 years and I thought I had seen it all.
That amounts to about 800 games, starting when teams had a halfback and fullback and played the standard 4-3 defense. Now we have spreads, no-backs, nickel defenses, dime defenses and other elaborate schemes on both sides of the ball.
No, I didn’t start covering games when there were helmets with no facemasks. But needless to say if there’s something that’s happened in football, I’ve seen it.
But the last two Fridays, I witnessed something I know I haven’t seen before.
In McPherson High’s 38-14 victory over Winfield, the Bullpup starting defense departed after allowing the Vikings minus-2 yards of offense. The Vikes did score twice against the MHS neophytes in the fourth quarter to feel better about themselves.
This past Friday, in what was supposed to be one of the games of the night in Central Kansas — The Eagle was there as was a TV station — the Bullpup defense had its game face on. Through three quarters, the Orioles — 3-0 at the start of the night and ranked No. 8 — had minus 3 yards of offense. MHS wound up pitching a 40-0 shutout after blanking Augusta 41-0 last year at McPherson Stadium.
Had it not been for a Clay Westbrooks 37-yard run in the closing minutes, Augusta would have finished the night with minus yards of offense. As it was, it snapped the ball 47 times for a grand total of 20 yards.
The Bullpup defense is playing with relentless passion and perhaps with the thought it wants to keep a team minus yards for an entire game. Any yards it allows, it thinks, is too many and it’s on a mission to see how low it can go.
I keep a play-by-play and I counted 17 plays where the Orioles lost yards. Much of that involved slippery Augusta QB Chance Whitehead, who had 11 plays where he lost yardage.
There were times when Whitehead received the ball, took one step and was flattened. It started on the very first series where the O’s were minus 3, 7 and 9 yards on the first three plays as they went from their own 20 to the 1 in a heartbeat.
In the first half alone, the Orioles finished with minus-11 yards, while the Bullpups were piling up 264.
What must the Circle T-Birds be thinking about this Friday when they host the Bullpups? They were rolled 26-0 by Augusta and have scored 23 points in four games, 16 of those against Winfield.
The MHS offense started a bit slow with just a single first-quarter score, but heated up in the second period behind the combination of Kyler Hoppes to sprinter-fast Talyn Huff, who had four catches on the night for 178 yards and two scores. Huff’s SHORTEST catch was for 30 yards.
The Bullpups also pounded it out on the ground. Jace Kinnamon time and again took an early hit, but kept on ticking as most of his 108 yards on 19 carries came after the first contact. He was spinning, bobbing and weaving and had four runs of double digits, including dashes of 22 and 20 yards, in addition to having a 50-plus yarder called back because of penalty. Austen Hunt spelled him and added 66 yards on 10 carries.
This week’s game will be more mental than physical as the Bullpups can name their score. MHS then hosts winless Rose Hill the following week and the Rockets have played only one team close.
The Bullpups are building up mighty head of steam as they approach district play in three weeks.