McPherson High’s football team needs tonight’s game more than arch-rival Buhler.
Sounds strange considering the Bullpups are flying high with a 4-0 record while the Crusaders are still trying to find their identity after a 2-2 start.
But when I say the Bullpups need this game, they really need it.
No, not from a win-loss standpoint, though it’s certainly huge. A Bullpup victory and they’re set up for a run of postseason home games provided they keep winning every week.
But they need a game that has a playoff feel, which is what tonight’s game will feel like. It’s one thing to win when you step on the field before the game and just wonder by how much. It’s another thing to win a game where you feel like you’ve had to work hard to earn it.
But yes, they need this game in terms of being pushed. This team needs to face some adversity. The only adversity it has faced this year is scoring just 6 points in the first half in the season opener against Salina South, which basically decided the game because the way the Bullpup defense was playing that night, 6 points was plenty.
The last three weeks, the Bullpups have played teams that were far inferior. It didn’t help El Dorado that its starting quarterback and top running back didn’t play. And against Abilene, its top offensive threat James Mayden didn’t play.
In either game, it didn’t decide the outcome. In fact, these were going to be point-rule games even had they played.
MHS has not been behind all season. It hasn’t had any flukey plays go against it, no bounces that went the opponents’ way. This has been easy.
Almost too easy.
Maybe the weather will play a factor tonight. The Bullpups have not had any adverse conditions to play in. Should it rain, that would hamper a passing game that seemingly gets better every week.
I’m looking for a lot of things tonight. I want to see if the Bullpups can run the ball effectively against a quality team. In the first game last year against the Crusaders, the Bullpups ran for a paltry 19 yards on 19 attempts. The numbers were better in the rematch, but Buhler has done a good job against MHS’ standout running back Jace Kinnamon, holding him to 81 yards in the last two games.
I have a feeling the Bullpups will be able to pass the ball. Buhler’s defense has given up a lot of big passing plays to MHS, including last year’s stunning 94-yarder from Kyler Hoppes to Chandler Wiard that was last year’s Game 1 big play.
I also want to see how the Bullpups’ pass defense holds up. It hasn’t seen any semblance of a good thrower this year and Buhler’s Colton Goans lit it up for 281 yards last week against Mulvane. The question is, will the Bullpups give him time to throw as their front six have applied tremendous heat so far.
What I think I won’t see is a blowout, running-clock game. Buhler is a good football team, the best MHS will face all season. This is a rivalry game and Buhler has a proud tradition. It won’t have the defense of Salina South, but offensively it’s far and away the biggest challenge. And that’s what this defense needs.
It should be a lot of fun at Buhler tonight. Let’s hope the Bullpups can pass what will probably be their final challenge before the playoffs begin.