• EVER-CHANGING SCHEDULE — McPherson High’s 2018 football schedule was announced on Wednesday and of course the big change is that there’s eight regular-season games, then the playoffs start in Week 9.
Unlike this year’s unbalanced schedule where MHS played four of its first five on the road and then has three of four at home, the 2018 slate has four home games and four on the road. If things go as hoped, MHS should be home for Week 9 as it should still be good enough to have a record worthy of host status.
MHS opens with Class 5A Salina South, which has been in a down cycle the last couple of years and is struggling this season against top-notch competition. Then comes road games at Winfield and El Dorado, two programs that have been struggling.
Week 4 is a home game against current district opponent Abilene, which is always highly competitive though this year it’s off to a 2-3 start as compared to 5-0 at this time last year.
Then comes the toughest game on the schedule as the Bullpups go to Buhler for a second year in a row. The Buhler JVs and freshmen defeated MHS this season, which is somewhat of an indicator about upcoming talent, but it should be noted the Bullpups play very few juniors in the JV game.
MHS plays two of the last three at home, with McPherson Stadium games against Augusta and Circle sandwiched around a road game at Rose Hill.
Gone from the schedule next year is Maize South, which has handed the Bullpups their only loss this season. Also, since there are no districts starting with next year, Hays and Wamego are off the schedule.
When looking at next year’s team, the Bullpups are going to be the polar opposite of this year. They’ll return most of their starting offensive skill players in quarterback Kyler Hoppes, top running back Jace Kinnamon, and dynamic receivers Talyn Huff, Chandler Wiard and Gabe Hoover. Starting offensive lineman Dawson VanGoethem also returns.
Defensively, the Bullpups will be decimated as they mostly start seniors who have been regulars for three years. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of MHS players going both ways next year, unlike this year where it starts just one or two, depending on injuries.
While it’s fun to look at next year, we still have a whole lot of season left, especially if the Bullpups can go deep into the playoffs which is a real possibility.
• FAVORITE RIVALRY GAME — Of all the rivalry games we have in our area, Inman-Moundridge has to top the chart.
It doesn’t matter what sport it is, it always produces a lot of excitement.
The football teams meet on Friday in Moundridge. For the host Wildcats, it’s a chance to move closer to a postseason berth, while the Teutons need a win to get back into the district race.
Last year’s game produced a 17-14 Teuton victory and a close game is expected again this year. You can always throw the records out the window when they play, though this year Moundridge is just 1-4 and Inman is seeking its first win.
• NO PLAYOFF SURPRISES — The home teams held serve during the Major League Baseball wild-card games.
New York overcame a big deficit at the start to defeat Minnesota, while Arizona frittered away much of a 6-0 lead before holding off Colorado.
I still hang on to the belief that the Cleveland-New York winner is your World Series champion. I do have to scratch my head that Cleveland is not starting ace Corey Kluber in Game 1 against the Yankees, though he would pitch Game 5 if it goes that far.
That’s the best series, but I think Chicago-Washington in the National League could be right there. Washington has had a hard time getting over the hump, but Chicago isn’t the team it was last year and that gives the Nationals more of a chance. I still like the Cubs to win it.