There’s no getting around human nature. It is what it is.
So, no matter how much McPherson High football coach Jace Pavlovich and his staff stress the fact, the letdown factor is real and staring the Bullpups in the face on Friday when they travel to Circle.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Towanda in what will be MHS’ fourth road game in five weeks. Catch all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call.
MHS is 3-1 on the year, including a 33-21 road win over state-ranked Buhler. Circle is 0-4 and lost 26-0 to an Augusta team that the Bullpups obliterated 40-0 last week.
“First thing we do is we’re honest with the kids,” Pavlovich said. “We’re not going to tell the kids this is a great football team and then we lose their trust. This is a football team that plays hard, they do some good things offensively and defensively. Defensively they do some things that will challenge us because they run a 3-3 stack defense, something we haven’t seen since 2011. Offensively, they have a very good quarterback (Lane Coulter) who can do some good things. So we’re very honest with our kids and know this is a game where we should be able to take care of business.”
The T-Birds’ only close game was against Winfield, where they led 9-6 at the half before losing 32-16. They were blanked in losses against Maize South (47-0) and Augusta (26-0) and last week took on Coffeyville, which handed them a 35-7 loss.
Pavlovich said this week’s practices certainly haven’t reflected the Bullpups preparing for a winless team.
“I’m a little worried because this is the best week of practice we’ve had in a long time,” Pavlovich said. “They love playing football, they love practicing and love competing. We always talk about hitting the pillow every night knowing you did everything you could to make your team win.”
MHS’ defense has been on a mission the last couple of weeks. Through three quarters against Winfield two weeks ago, it allowed minus-2 yards. Last week against Augusta, the Orioles were minus-3 through three quarters and had it not been for a late 37-yard run, they would have been minus yards for the game.
“They play with a chip on their shoulder,” Pavlovich said of the defense. “Although they really shouldn’t. They’ve proven they’re very good. When you have a great defense like we have, you can go into a game knowing you’ve got a chance every single night.”
As expected, linebackers Jayse Alexander and Kollin Goering lead the team in tackles, while Wyatt Seidl has 9 tackles for losses. It’s a unit that seemingly gets better every game.
And the offense, almost with a brand-new group this season, is catching fire. The Bullpups have averaged 39 points over the last two games after being blanked by Maize South, which has given up only 17 points in four games. MHS has had nice balance the last two weeks, combining the passing of Kyler Hoppes, the receiving of Talyn Huff, Chandler Wiard, Ben Nikkel and Thomas Diggs, and the running of Jace Kinnamon and Austen Hunt to pile up big yards.
Perhaps exciting about the offense is that Hoppes and Kinnamon are juniors as are top receivers Huff, Wiard and Gabe Hoover, who could play this week after missing last week because of an injured shoulder. Pavlovich said he’s unsure just how much he’ll play, perhaps limiting him in preparation for district play that starts in two weeks.