Attending the McPherson High football scrimmage with Hays and Kingman last Friday morning at McPherson Stadium, I found myself asking who some of the players were on defense.
There’s a lot of new faces in new places on that side of the ball for the Bullpups, who completed team camp with a 2-hour scrimmage.
The Bullpups currently are in Hays for stern competition against other teams from Kansas as well as other states.
Last year the MHS defense was a rock, a well-oiled machine that was practically insulted when teams would score on them or hit on a big play. It was a veteran unit that was senior dominated.
Six members of that defense signed collegiate letters of intent, proof just how talented it was.
A few defensive players were recognizable on Friday. Honestee Whittker and Cody Stufflebean were season-long staples last year, while Kaleb Hoppes and Khalil Lisbon started at times later in the season.
It’s amazing how much difference about 9 months can make. It’s evident some of the Bullpups have spent considerable time in the weight room as they are bigger, stronger and faster.
My first impression is that the Bullpup offense has the potential to put a lot of points on the board. Health, of course, is the chief concern, but with Kyler Hoppes back as the triggerman, MHS is going to have the balance that has come to define it the last few years.
Hoppes is going to be able to spread the ball around as teams won’t be able to concentrate on defending one top receiver. Hoppes and Tayln Huff hit on a couple of big plays in the scrimmage, while Gabe Hoover and Chandler Wiard are proven commodities. They all appeared to be in midseason form.
Stufflebean saw some time as a slot tight end and he’s a target at 6-4. He’s also fast for someone his size and he’ll be a new weapon.
Dawson VanGoethem probably looked around and wondered where all his offensive line mates had gone. He was the only underclassmen who started last year, but players like Shane Starkel, Kourtney Craig, Noah Avila and Ryder Peterson have made a nice transition. Also exciting is that there’s a lot of size among the sophomore offensive linemen and MHS coach Jace Pavlovich gushed about how much depth the team has at that position.
How quickly the new-look defense develops will be a key. Just like last year, it’s going to be a unit that’s going to rely more on quickness and technique rather than size, though Lisbon — who transferred in from Florida last year — has all the physical tools to dominate. Whittker and Mason Thrash looked strong at linebacker, while the top area to develop would appear to be the secondary as there are some terrific players who graduated.
All-in-all, I believe McPherson fans are going to be treated to another exciting season. There’s an eight-game regular season, with Week 9 the first round of postseason play. I’m expecting the Bullpups to host that week as they’ll probably have one of the better records in the class.