The countdown is now at 13.
That’s how many days until the first day of fall sports practice as allowed by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
August 17 will be the official signal that summer is over and we’re about to begin nine months of exciting local interscholastic sports.
The fall has been very, very good to McPherson High in recent years. Nearly all of the Bullpup teams were outstanding last season, including league and regional championships and near-miss state championships.
I am currently in the infant stages of putting together the annual Mid Kansas Fall Sports Magazine, one of four published yearly by Davies Communications Inc. We will be covering McPherson High, as well as area schools Canton-Galva, Inman, Moundridge, Little River, Smoky Valley, Elyria Christian School and Hesston.
Those schools also have provided some exciting moments the past few falls and no doubt will produce more thrills this upcoming school year.
We will have previews of all the teams of each high school, as well season schedules and a couple of bonus features. What really makes our magazine pop are contributed photos from Kendall Shaw, one of Kansas’ finest freelance photographers and a contributor to Midkansasonline.com.
Remember, our website includes stories of all teams throughout the season and the number of hits have dramatically increased the past three years. I advise all sports fans to bookmark our website and check it throughout the day as it’s updated continually. I also write five columns a week, something that you won’t find from any other media outlet in our area.
I have been doing this for a long time. I am beginning my 37th year of covering McPherson area sports and 41st overall. Yet, nothing gets my creative juices flowing like the start of a new school year, as optimism bursts in the air like the Fourth of July fireworks.
Here’s just a brief snapshot of what to expect from McPherson High this fall:
• Football — The Jace Pavlovich Era begins as the longtime Bullpup defensive coordinator has been elevated to the head job, succeeding the retiring Tom Young. All MHS has done the past nine years is win eight league championships and make nine playoff appearances. Fans might want to keep their game programs close by, however, as there’s very few returning starters as seniors filled most of the positions last year. MHS was 7-3, highlighted by wins over state-ranked powers Buhler and Hays.
• Volleyball — Christy Doile has built one of the most consistently high-profile programs in the state, including a state championship in 2012. The Bullpups, who were third in the state last year with a 36-8 record, lose some key seniors, but return perhaps Class 4A Division I’s most dynamic duo — Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander. They should be augmented by a solid group of returnees.
• Girls tennis — Coach Tyler Brown’s Bullpups came up just short in their bid for a state championship repeat, taking second place to Independence after being ranked No. 1 much of the season. The Bullpups must replace four key seniors in Emily Ediger, Camry Holle, Katlyn Reifschneider and Madison Hoffman, all of whom were longtime staples. Ellea Ediger is the unquestioned leader as she’s been one of the state’s best players the last two years, including a second-place state singles finish in 2013.
• Boys soccer — McPherson High coach Chris Adrian has to replace just one senior from last year’s team that advanced to the Elite Eight — Ethan VanDorn.
With nine players returning who earned league honors, Adrian has a team that will make a serious bid for the Bullpups’ first state championship since 2003. The Bullpups should have good depth and figure to be ranked in the Top 5 from Day One.
• Cross Country — The Bullpups of coach Gentry Nixon have been a young team the last couple of years, but those bumps taken as freshmen and sophomores should make them stronger now that they’re juniors and seniors. With the addition of a middle school program in 2013, the benefits should start showing through as the team certainly should have more depth than year’s past.