McPherson High’s football team held a funeral service on Monday.
It buried “Jade,” the play it ran for a successful 2-point conversion last Friday in overtime to give it a pulsating 15-14 victory over arch-rival Buhler in the first round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
The play — an end-around pass back to the quarterback out of the Wildcat formation — immediately went viral as the MHS-Buhler game was the talk of the state and said by many to be the greatest finish in Bullpup history.
MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said the service was held so his team could put the Buhler victory — as emotionally uplifting as it was – behind it so it could concentrate totally on Maize South, which hosts the Bullpups on Friday in the second round.
Kickoff is 7 p.m., with live coverage on 96.7 KBBE-FM starting at 6:30 with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call.
“It took the weekend,” Pavlovich said to celebrate the victory. “A big win like that over your rival like Buhler, it’s going to take some time. We had a funeral service for the play at practice and we’ve buried it and moved on.”
The 9-1 Bullpups need little motivation on Friday. They have lost four games the last two years, but three have come to the Mavericks, all by close margins. The Mavs won 14-6 last year during the regular season and then ended the Bullpups’ season with a 35-27 win in the playoffs. In Week 2 this season, Maize South scored 9 points in a 65-second span and that accounted for the game’s only points in a Mavericks 9-0 win. Their only loss came to Buhler.
“We realize we’re 0-3 against Maize South. We need to take care of business,” Pavlovich said. “It’s a mix of a few things. First, they’re two-platoon across the board. So in the fourth quarter they’re completely fresh. For us, we are this year, too. That’s definitely evened the playing field. There’s a few matchups that they have that present a few problems for us. But we’ve gotten so much better since that Week 2 game.”
Other than those 9 Maize South points in 65 seconds — 2 coming on a safety when MHS quarterback Kyler Hoppes was stopped trying to get out of the end zone — the Mavericks did very little against the stout MHS defense. In fact, they had less than 200 yards of offense and averaged less than 2 yards a rush.
Pavlovich said the Mavericks are like MHS in that they hang their hat on their defense.
“They have not changed,” Pavlovich said. “They’re a team that’s in a 4-3 and fundamentally sound. They always are. They’re the direct opposite of Buhler. They are more of a bend, but don’t break, defense. We are confident in our ability to move the ball, but what is going to be crucial for us is being able to score in the red zone.”
MHS managed only 180 yards against the Mavs in the first meeting, with Jace Kinnamon rushing for 92. The Bullpup passing game was held in check as Hoppes didn’t have a lot of time to throw.
Offensively, the Mavs are like Buhler in that they bank on one running back. Max Domnick has 1,235 yards and has carried 235 times as he’s a workhorse despite being a smallish back. But he has strong legs and breaks a lot of tackles. He carried 26 times, but for only 64 yards in Week 2. MHS linebackers Kollin Goering and Jayse Alexander were all over the field in that game with 13 and 12 tackles, respectively.
The winner of this game moves on to play the winner of Andale and Andover Central a week from Friday.