It’s evident from a week of summer camp that McPherson High’s football team rates an excellent chance of improving on its 5-4 record from 2015 and getting back to the playoffs after its nine-year streak was interrupted.
The Bullpups’ top three classes, totaling approximately 60 players, were put through the paces by second-year head coach Jace Pavlovich and his staff this week at McPherson Stadium and several observations were apparent to even the novice fan.
One, the Bullpups are going to have a wealth of quickness on defense. At one point last season Pavlovich started seven sophomores and the experience they gained was invaluable.
“Defensively we have a ton of speed,” Pavlovich said. “We should be able to defend spread teams very well this fall. Our question mark is where we will be with our defensive line. We have some quality kids, but not a whole lot of depth.”
The Bullpups could at some point transition to a 3-4 scheme as they have a number of linebackers who can patrol sideline to sideline, led by the uber-active Jayse Alexander. They also have a lot of skill in the secondary as a number of players could be employed.
Line play could again be the key to an offense that could be high-octane. Casen Hoover should be one of the best quarterbacks in Class 4A and he has a bevy of receivers to throw to, led by Jack Reifschneider and Jeff Reed. There are three junior backs capable of putting up big numbers, including Austen Hunt, Tyson Stites and Andrew Powell. Look for the Bullpups to go with a lot of one-back sets to take advantage of the six-pack or so of receivers.
“Offensively I am very excited at how advanced our passing game is at this point,” Pavlovich said. “The O-line has done a good job in pass protection, too. We will be going to three 7-on-7 tournaments this summer to further polish our game. Our running game is getting there. This is always the last facet to get rolling for us. We do have plenty of depth in the skill positions, but need to develop a few more quality lineman to be able to compete this fall.”
The first stop for the Bullpups is Pittsburg State, a trip that has become the rite of summer.
“Going into the Pitt State team camp, we plan on taking two teams,” Pavlovich said. “Forty-six kids will be getting on the bus on Sunday morning at 6 a.m. to go compete with the best Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas has to offer. In the first session we will get going against Carthage, Mo., Tuttle, Okla., Great Bend and Shawnee Mission North. There are 13 teams that will be at the camp and all of which saw significant success last year. We will be able to figure out what we need to work on.”