MHS players surprisingly snubbed for Shrine Bowl

By Steve Sell
January 05, 2021

Tuesday’s thoughts…

NO SHRINE BOWLERS FOR MHS – For the first time since 2008, McPherson High will not be represented in the annual Shrine Bowl Football Game this summer.

This year’s game is practically in the back yard of McPherson, as Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium will be the site.

The Bullpups have had one of the state’s longest streaks, beginning with Tanner Hawkinson in 2008. He was followed by Zach Peterson, Joel Piper, Christian Ulsaker, Jordan Hart, Collin French, Garrett Larson, Ty Hart, Jake Nikkel, Jack Reifschneider, Jared Ruth, Wyatt Seidl, Gabe Hoover and Cody Stufflebean. Reifschneider and Ruth were picked in 2017, the one year MHS had two selections.

Prior to Hawkinson, MHS’ picks had been Mike Easter, Greg Cook, Ray Wilson, Dwayne Chandler and Boe Soden.

Bullpup coach Jace Pavlovich said he was “frustrated” as he believed MHS – which was 10-2 and advanced to the state semifinals for the fourth year in a row – had three worthy candidates. Brycen Labertew, Jonah Scott and Dylan Rinker were on practically every Class 4A first or second team.

When I was at The McPherson Sentinel, I received a ballot every year and took my voting responsibilities seriously. Since leaving to join Midkansasonline.com, though, I no longer have a vote and I don’t know if Sentinel sports editors have had one since I left.  The Sentinel once published 6 days a week and now is twice-a-week, with no actual sports editor. For someone who worked there 33-plus years, it saddens me to see how the paper provides very little coverage due to corporate decisions.

The Bullpups certainly deserved at least one selection. Labertew was first-team 4A All-State by every “all” team I saw, including the state’s Big 2 papers. Scott, who also made all the teams, was arguably among the top linemen in Kansas, while Rinker’s numbers were easily among the best in the state.

I would certainly have nominated all three Bullpups in the hopes of at least one being named.

“It is a huge honor to get to play in the Shrine Bowl, I would like to see the selection process change,” Pavlovich said. “At the very least, I would be supportive of more transparency in the selection process.”

It should be noted that some players that are selected wind up opting out and then are replaced, so the MHS streak isn’t totally over yet.

At least the McPherson area, which had an incredible year with Little River winning the state title, and Canton-Galva and Inman having tremendous years, wasn’t totally shut out as Little River’s Jayden Garrison and Inman’s Carter Brown were selected to play at Hutch.  

WILL KU DROP TO 2-2 IN BIG 12? – When was the last time the Kansas Jayhawks started 2-2 in the Big 12?

That could very well happen tonight.

The Jayhawks are licking their wounds after being embarrassed by Texas in the worst loss at Allen Field House under Bill Self. KU was physically and mentally weak as Texas did whatever it wanted, exposing the Jayhawks’ weaknesses of lack of size and overall team athleticism.

Now KU has to pack up and head to play at TCU, where it often has struggled. This is not a great Horned Frog team by any stretch of the imagination, but teams are realizing KU has never been more vulnerable. While it does have wins over Kentucky (which just ended a six-game losing streak) and a good Creighton team, this is Self’s least-talented team during his KU run. Never has it been so void of an inside game, as David McCormack just can’t seem to figure it out on a consistent basis and Mitch Lightfoot simply doesn’t get enough minutes.

Teams don’t fear KU like they normally do and a TCU win tonight wouldn’t be a shock to anybody.

CHIEFS WILL LOSE BIENIEMY – It’s a virtual cinch that offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s time with the Chiefs is coming to an end.

With six available NFL head coaching openings, any team that doesn’t give Bieniemy an interview would be crazy. He has paid his dues and learned under the offensive wizard himself, Andy Reid. Reid has been Bieniemy’s biggest booster as he believes he’s more than ready to lead his own team.

There’s also a big push in the NFL for minority inclusion. If Bieniemy doesn’t land a head job, there will be a hue and cry – and deservedly so. Too many times coaches are recycled, like the Adam Gases of the world. He’s been a two-time flop and it’s hard to imagine him getting another head job.

Of the openings, Los Angeles’ Chargers would appear to me to be the best situation. Just think of Bieniemy going up against Big Red twice a year. I would probably rank Houston as the next-best because of DeShaun Watson, while Atlanta has good talent, but is hamstrung by the salary cap. Other openings are Jacksonville, Detroit and the New York Jets. Jacksonville might be a good destination because it will be picking Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick. Detroit and New York are dead-end jobs.


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