All Jace Pavlovich can think about when it comes to Friday’s opponent Rose Hill is that his McPherson High Bullpups escaped with an 8-7 victory in last year’s meeting.
He doesn’t pay attention to the fact the Rockets are 0-3 so far this season and have been outscored 123-14. He still says there’s no way his team should be overconfident when the Rockets invade McPherson Stadium for the 7 p.m. homecoming game.
“It was a knock-down, drag-out game last year,” said Pavlovich, whose 1-2 team is trying to repair the damage of the last two weeks after starting the year like a super-nova with a 14-7 shocker of Salina South. “They do the same stuff defensively as last year, they try to confuse you. We were very confused last year. It’s hard to crack their code, which way they are slanting from, which way they are blitzing from.”
If the first three weeks are an indication, it should again be a low-scoring game. The Bullpups have managed only 11.3 points a game to 4.7 for the Rockets.
“They do have some pretty good kids, but their problem is they’re not real deep,” Pavlovich said. “This (Ross) Nolan kid is pretty darn good, but last week they put him at receiver in the second half and brought in a really nice junior kid (Grant Moore) who throws a good ball. If they have time to throw, they can be a decent offensive team.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise, Pavlovich said, to see the Rockets try to test the MHS secondary repeatedly.
Pavlovich has dismissed the Rockets’ 75-0 opening-game loss to Wichita Collegiate, instead focusing more on how competitive they were last week in a narrow 14-7 setback to El Dorado.
MHS itself is coming off a tough, last-minute loss to Augusta, 19-13. MHS was up 13-6 at the half, but its depleted defense couldn’t keep the Orioles from rallying for the win. The Bullpups littered the defensive side of the ball with sophomores and while they played admirably, they gave away a lot of experience.
The Bullpups should welcome back standouts Klayton Goering and Jack Reifschneider this week. Goering has missed the last two games and Reifschneider played one series against Andale, then was out totally last week. However, Britton Bate is still out and probably the best-case scenario for him is a return for Week 6 against Winfield.
Pavlovich believes his team just needs to find its first-week mojo. He doesn’t use injuries as an excuse, but it’s not a coincidence the team hasn’t played as well the last two weeks since it hasn’t been 100 percent.
“It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions for everybody involved,” Pavlovich said. “We’ve had a good week of practice. Our kids seem to be focusing in.”
The Bullpups did get a little more balance to their offense last week as Casen Hoover and Spenser Wine hooked up six times for 60 yards. Noah Jirgens has been a rock at running back with three straight 100-yard games and is on pace for a 1,500-yard season. He’s also averaging just under 33 carries a game, so Pavlovich would like to get him a little bit of a break.