Bullpups really need a game where they're pushed

By Steve Sell
October 08, 2018

Jace Pavlovich was frustrated, an odd reaction considering his McPherson High football team had just tenderized Augusta 63-6 on homecoming night after leading 55-0 at the half.

He wasn’t, however, frustrated WITH his team. He was frustrated FOR his team.

Since opening the season with a grind-it-out 21-0 victory over tradition-rich Salina South, the Bullpups have steamrolled their last five opponents by a combined score of 274-34, with all of the outcomes decided by halftime and the second halves resulting in running clock, some of them at the start of the half, others later in the third quarter.

Even Buhler, MHS’ chief antagonist and a program with an impeccable pedigree, offered little resistance as the Bullpups led 33-0 at the break.

Pavlovich has been readying his starters each week to play four quarters of football. In some instances, they have played only two. And that’s what’s frustrates him. He knows at some point his team will be pushed to the limit and he’s not sure how it will react, but expects it to be positive.

But the schedule is what it is. While at the start of the season it was thought to be somewhat on the light side with the Salina South and Buhler games the most compelling, it turns out those teams’ rebuilding efforts are much more massive than expected. And the rest of AVCTL Division III is struggling terribly in terms of talent and numbers.

The Bullpups are 6-0 and have games left at Rose Hill and at home against Circle. Rose Hill is 0-6. Circle is 1-5 — its only win coming against Rose Hill.

So unless weather plays a major factor, expect more of the same the next couple of weeks. The Bullpups basically have the No. 1 seed in the West sewn up, though Pavlovich continually tells his team one of the opponents can give them a game if they’re not focused.

But focus doesn’t seem to be a problem with this team. It’s focused all right, focused on chasing history. No Bullpup football team has ever advanced to the state championship game, with three making it to the semifinals — including last year’s team that lost to Andale.

At this point, Independence would appear to be the Week 9 opponent. The Bulldogs have Circle and Rose Hill remaining, both winnable games. But I think Pavlovich would like for his team to play Indy because it’s a team that hasn’t seen MHS. And Pavlovich doesn’t want to play either Rose Hill or Circle again after just playing them late in the season.

So then you have to look ahead to which teams are at Nos. 8 and 9 as assuming MHS strolls into the second round, it would play the winner of that matchup. Right now, Ulysses is No. 8 and Andover Central is No. 9 and I have no doubt Andover Central would win that game. I still think the Jags are a sneaky team considering the tough schedule they play, probably the toughest of any 4A team on the West side.

The Jags probably won’t beat Andover this week, but should beat Arkansas City in Week 8, so they could jump a spot or two or three as it’s a fluid situation.

My guess is if the Bullpups don’t play Andover Central in Week 10, it may be Week 11 before they have to play a full game. There’s simply nothing you can do but play the cards you are dealt.