Huge challenges for MHS kickers

By Steve Sell
August 30, 2016

Tuesday’s thoughts...

• HUGE WEEK FOR MHS SOCCER — Never let it be said that McPherson High’s boys soccer team pads the early season schedule with creampuffs.

The Bullpups, ranked third in the Class 4-1A preseason poll, have a land mine week coming up, starting tonight.

Newton comes to town for what should be a donnybrook as the Railers traditionally have a strong team. They’re certainly a Top 10 team in Class 5A and it should be an acid test for the Bullpups.

On Thursday, defending 4-1A state champion Rose Hill comes to town. The Rockets  opened their season losing a 4-2 verdict to Coffeyville.

Bullpup coach Chris Adrian has a team that’s capable of putting a lot of goals on the board as Andric McGill and Patrick Munsey will be the focus of every opposing team’s defense. They combined for a staggering 50 goals last year, including 37 by the stealth-like McGill, who at times can take your breath away with his athleticism. Munsey is the perpetual grinder who simply outworks his defenders with his relentless energy.

The big question mark will be the MHS defense as Adrian is breaking in some new starters. What will make their job easier, however, will be the Bullpups’ ability to control the ball. I doubt there will be many games this year where MHS won’t control time of possession.

Tonight’s season opener at McPherson Stadium should attract a big crowd. I hope everyone will join me at the game.

• BLACKOUT FOR STUDENTS — The McPherson High student section is being encouraged to come to the season-opening football game dressed in black on Friday.

The Bullpups host Buhler in what will be one of the Top 10 games in Kansas for Week 1. The teams have been involved in some high-scoring shootouts in recent years and I’ll be surprised if Friday’s game isn’t more of the game.

The Bullpups will have a terrific passing attack, but finding a consistent ground game will be the key. Tyson Stites figures to get a lot of touches after it was hoped going into the season that he would share time with top returning rusher Austen Hunt. But Hunt was lost in the offseason at the Pittsburg State camp on a non-contact play. It’s a shame because I think he could have had a 1,000-yard season after opening a lot of eyes as a sophomore last year.

Buhler is having to replace its 1-2 offensive punch of quarterback Jace Williams and running back Dillon Engelland, but it had players in the wings last year just waiting for their chance. And now they’re time has arrived.

• ROYALS STAY HOT — I really thought because the Royals played a late Sunday night game in Boston and didn’t get into town until after 3 a.m., they might sleepwalk on Monday against the New York Yankees.

Instead the Royals came out smoking, jumping on the Yankees in the first inning for a  3-0 lead and went on for an 8-5 triumph.

KC recently has started games fast after about 6 weeks when it seemed it was giving up first-inning runs by the handful.

This, to me, looked like a sure loss on paper. The Royals were going with No. 5 starter Dillon Gee, but he’s caught up with the other members of the rotation by delivering another good outing. He’s still little more than a five-inning pitcher, but that’s all the Royals need with their bullpen, which had a hiccup against the Yankees by allowing four runs in the eighth, forcing Kelvin Herrera to pitch in a game where it looked like he could enjoy as a spectator.

The Royals have 31 games left, 19 of them at home. While it’s difficult to believe they can continue to win at a frenetic pace, they are making a tremendous defense of their World Championship. Quite often teams have a letdown after winning it all and it looked that way for four months for the Royals. But they’re making a tremendous kick down the stretch and while the odds still seem long, I’m not sure right now I’d want to bet against them.