McPherson High football coach Jace Pavlovich had a check list of three things he wanted to accomplish last week when the Bullpups participated in the annual team camp at Pittsburg State University.
Two out of three isn’t bad.
“We had a great camp,” the second-year MHS coach said. “Going into the camp we have three main goals. We were able to achieve two out of three. We want to be the most physical team, most enthusiastic team and get out of there healthy. I felt we were as physical or more physical than every team there. I had multiple coaches from Andover to the Pitt State staff confirm that belief. We were enthusiastic throughout the long, grueling camp. Our kids love to play football and it shows.”
But the Bullpups came up short in goal three.
“We did not make it out of camp healthy, but we should be fine when we get into fall camp,” Pavlovich said. “Jack Reifschneider suffered a high ankle sprain. He is in a cast for 3 weeks, but should be fully recovered in a month. Britton Bate sprained his ankle, but we look for a quick recovery with him.”
Reifschneider and Bate are two players the Bullpups can ill afford to be without. Reifschenider is a tremendous defensive back and receiver, while Bate is a quality two-way lineman who plays with a high motor. It is hoped they can be 100 percent by the time practice starts in August.
Pavlovich came back from Pittsburg more than a little excited about his offense.
“Offensively we were able to get a lot of things done,” he said. “Our passing game and pass protection is looking good thus far. We have added four or five more route schemes and our guys have picked up on it well. We have three 7-on-7 tournaments coming up this summer to hone in on our skills.”
The offensive line could be the key as while there’s good talent in the first group, there’s precious little depth. If the line develops, the Bullpups could unleash a stable of backs.
“Our offensive line is coming along well,” Pavlovich said. “Our running game is going to benefit from a ton of experience returning upfront as well as three talented tailbacks in Austen Hunt, Tyson Stites and Andrew Powell. We are also putting our H-receiver in the backfield (Reifschneider and Gabe Hoover) to get the ball in the hands of great athletes. Wyatt Seidl and Kollin Goering have the ability to carry the ball from the fullback position. Our offensive line could be pretty good. This is the first time in a while we could have all five starters that are seniors. Our strength has to be in the depth at wide receiver. I have a two-deep roster at all four positions that I feel confident in putting in at any time on Friday nights.”
The Bullpup defense grew up last season and a cadre of sophomores were forced into playing time. There were even moments where as many as seven sophomores were on the field and those players are now bigger, stronger and faster as juniors.
“Defensively we have speed,” Pavlovich said. “Our size on the interior line is not what it has been, but it’s anchored by two tough kids. We look to run through Dylan Baldwin, Britton Bate and Jared Ruth on the interior line. That was the biggest question mark going into camp. They did a great job. Our back seven could be one of the best we have had in a while. They will have to continue to get better this summer in 7-on-7 as well.”
The Bullpups went 1-1-1 in scrimmages, with the win coming against Great Bend, the loss to Class 6A Washburn Rural and the tie with Tuttle, Okla. In the tie, Jeff Reed caught a late TD pass from Hoover.
MHS begins its season on Sept. 2 hosting Buhler in what should be one of the spotlight games in Kansas on Opening Night.