McPherson High football coach Jace Pavlovich kept Friday’s scrimmage about as vanilla as Fourth of July ice cream.
The Bullpups dutifully went through the paces for about an hour on Friday during the Fall Sports Preview at McPherson Stadium, as Pavlovich took a short look at his starters and a long look at some of his younger players under the lights.
The first-week excitement of practice gave away to the second-week grind. And now we’re into the third week of the preseason, which ends on Thursday with the final practice before game time on Friday.
And what a game it will be, probably one of the best in Kansas for the opening Friday of the season.
Buhler, which has developed into the Bullpups’ biggest rival in recent years, comes to McPherson Stadium to renew their series. The Crusaders have been in the Bullpups’ district, but the teams have been separated this season. Buhler has been replaced by Wamego on the district schedule, joining holdovers Hays and Abilene.
Pavlovich took time Friday to reflect on a whirlwind two weeks of practice.
“We have everything in that we want,” he said. “We were able to get some good work in tonight. The crowd was awesome.”
The Bullpups began their scrimmage by giving the football on the first play to manager Ryan Ronsse, who thundered into the end zone, earning a congratulatory mob by the MHS players.
“To start it off with Ronsee scoring a touchdown was spectacular,” Pavlovich said. “He’s been wanting to run the ball.”
It’s clear the Bullpups want to up the pace offensively. Behind returning starting quarterback and confident leader Casen Hoover and a deep reservoir of receivers, the Bullpups will play at a brisk pace and could run more plays than in the past.
“Tempo has been good, we’re moving and we’re not sitting around,” Pavlovich said. “We’re not wasting any time on both sides of the ball. Our tempo has really impressed me and the guys have picked it up well.”
It’s more than likely the Bullpups are going to air it out.
“Our passing game has picked up where it left off this summer,” Pavlovich said. “We really like where we’re at.”
The Bullpups’ top receiver Jack Reifschneider was held out for precautionary reasons as was Gabe Hoover. Reifschneider should be ready for Buhler, while Hoover’s status is to be determined. Reifschneider was MHS’ most versatile player last year as he can play all over the field. Hoover was a stickout this summer and one of the sophomores who figures to make a noticeable contribution on a team dominated by seniors and juniors.
The Bullpups are rather smallish on defense, but make up for it in other ways.
“Defensively I’ve been impressed with our team speed,” Pavlovich said. “It’s just incredible. We are a little undersized, but those guys run to the ball. We see it on film. Sometimes it looks we have the edge on a power run and it closes just like that.”
The Bullpups are hoping to open the season just as they did last year. Going up against Class 5A power Salina South, the Bullpups scored two early touchdowns and their defense made it stand up in a 14-7 upset.