BULLPUPS HAVE HIGH CEILING – McPherson High’s football team has barely scratched the surface of its immense potential in compiling a 2-0 start.
The Bullpups have been a second-half team in their two victories. They led Salina South just 10-7 at the half in Week 1 before pulling away for a 24-14 victory, while in the home opener this past Friday against Circle, the Bullpups were in a fight with just a 10-0 lead at the break, but put the game into rout status in the second half for a 44-0 victory.
Now MHS must avoid a letdown this week against a Great Bend team that is 0-2 on the year and has lost its last 10 games overall. I recall last year that Great Bend put up a good battle in the first half at McPherson Stadium, only to succumb to a big MHS second half as the Bullpups were a 31-13 winner after it was 14-7 at the break.
While Friday’s final score indicates smooth sailing, the Bullpups had their warts. The defense couldn’t get off the field in the first half and for the game, the T-Birds ran 66 plays to just 43 for MHS. Circle played keep-away in the first half as it dominated time of possession. Without the ball, the Bullpup offense was in idle.
Yet, MHS still pitched a shutout. But Circle quarterback Luke McGinnis threw for nearly 200 yards and hard-running T-Bird tailback Dylan Bougher was tough with 110 yards on 33 carries. But when stops were needed, MHS got them.
The Bullpups’ defense is relying more on speed this year than bulk. The front 4 of Curtis Landrum, Darriene Gibbs, Sam Becker and Jaice Minier is a bit on the light side, but makes up for it with quickness. Linebackers Aiden Hoover and Javyn Alexander are hitters and the secondary, which uses a number of combinations, has led the way to 6 interceptions by the defense. The only conundrum for MHS coach Jace Pavlovich has been allowing too many long passing plays.
As for the offense, it, too, alternates moments of brilliance with breakdowns. There were too many penalties on Friday and some other things need cleaning up. But no question MHS glitters in the skill positions and there’s a lot of home-run potential. Jaytin Gumm and Trey Buckbee both had electrifying 69-yard scoring plays against the T-Birds and Hunter Alvord played error-free in directing the attack.
After the road game at Great Bend, the Bullpups get into a run of league games starting with a home matchup against Winfield.
VIKES A BIG SURPRISE – Speaking of Winfield, new coach Monty Lewis’ old-school mentality has rubbed off on the Vikings in his first year at the helm.
Lewis, a longtime successful coach at Southwestern and Friends (which probably wishes it had him back given how far the program has fallen since it showed him the door), has the Vikings off to a 2-0 start, but we’ll find out just how good they are Friday when they’re matched with Buhler.
From people I’ve talked with familiar with the program, he has the Vikings playing with intensity and physicality. They have given up just 14 points in their 2 games and have an offense that can pound the ball with Ar’mon Acosta. A trademark of Lewis’ college teams was having that bell cow running back he can give the ball 30 times and Acosta has the frame to handle the pounding.
I’ll be interested to see just how competitive the Vikings are with the high-powered Crusaders.
GOOD START FOR AREA SCHOOLS – The McPherson area schools have compiled back-to-back 5-1 weeks, with the expected powerhouses leading the way.
Inman, Canton-Galva and Little River are going to live in the state rankings all season, but the big surprise has been Smoky Valley. The Vikings, coming off a 3-6 season and with a small senior class, have turned heads with a 2-0 start, both games on the road.
Moundridge and Hesston are both 1-1, with their losses coming to possible ranked teams.
Throw in McPherson and the record for our teams is a sparkling 12-2.