Lots of football season left

By Steve Sell
September 05, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• MHS HAD ITS CHANCES — The sky is not falling for the McPherson High football team.

There’s a lot of season left for the Bullpups, 26-13 losers to arch-rival Buhler here this past Friday night in the season opener for both teams. Down 20-0 early in the second quarter, the Bullpups clawed their way back into it, scoring on the final possession of the first half and then the first possession of the second half to make it a game.

The turning point came late in the third quarter. The Bullpups blocked a Buhler punt and had just 36 yards to traverse to tie it.

But Buhler came up big defensively as the Bullpups stalled out on four straight plays. From there, MHS never made another first down as Buhler controlled the clock in the fourth quarter and added an insurance touchdown with just under 3 minutes left to play.

This game was such a polar opposite of the norm between the teams. Generally there’s very little defense and a lot of offense running up and down the field.

But neither team reached 300 yards of total offense and the Bullpups clipped the 200-yard mark by just a single step.

The Bullpup offense will get better. The passing game showed promise as Casen Hoover was dialed in on Jack Reifschneider and Jeff Reed, a combo that should cause opponents problems. Thomas Diggs made an early catch and look for him to become more involved this week.

The running game, MHS coach Jace Pavlovich admitted, must improve.There wasn’t a whole lot of room for Tyson Stites to run as he was limited to 44 yards.

This should be a big-play offense, but credit Buhler for limiting “chunk” plays. Other than a 45-yard touchdown pass from Hoover to Reifschneider (which was a five-yard play that Reifschneider made a great move to set sail) and a 28-yard strike to Diggs, the Crusaders held firm.

The MHS defense was as quick as advertised. Jayse Alexander was all over the field making plays and I liked how the Bullpups blitzed from all angles. Now it just has to create some turnovers.

Maize South comes here on Friday and the Mavericks are loaded as they piled up 66 points on Circle in their opener. I’m not sure the Mavericks are that good or the T-Birds are that bad. Probably a combination of both.

• BULLDOGS PUT UP GOOD FIGHT — McPherson College’s football team didn’t score its 29th point of the 2015 season until its fourth game.

Saturday, it took one game.

The Bulldogs of second-year coach Paul Mierkiewicz put up a valiant effort against Nebraska Wesleyan in their season opener as their fourth-quarter rally came up short, 34-29.

The teams were tied 17-all at the half. After giving up 17 straight points, the Bulldogs charged in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns.

Mac won the statistical battle. Behind new quarterback Ed Crouch, the Bulldogs accumulated 405 yards, a mark that was only a mirage last year. Crouch, a transfer from Coffeyville Community College, threw for 210 yards and was not picked off. He also showed some athleticism by running 15 times for 56 yards.

New backs Tyrone Campbell and Zack Melius had nice numbers as well. Campbell rushed for 78 yards and found the end zone twice while Melius, who wasn’t unleashed until the fourth quarter, slashed for 66 yards on 11 carries as he showed a nice burst.

Ashton Serpas and Travis Steenson led the defense with 14 and 12 tackles, respectively. Steenson is a McPherson High grad who gained notoriety at juco power Butler County and he’s become an immediate leader.

The Bulldogs have a difficult test on Saturday when they travel to Iowa to take on Dordt College, which was a 45-42 winner over Dakota State in its season opener.

• KU WON’T GO O-FER — Saturday’s 55-6 rout of hapless Rhode Island was a welcome relief for Kansas football fans.

The Jayhawks, coming off an 0-12 debacle of a season, didn’t meander against a team it was supposed to rout. The passing game looked sharp and there’s some definite speed in the skill positions.

Despite allowing only six points, the KU defense looks shaky as it’s undersized and lacks physicality. If a team like Rhode Island can pound the ball between the tackles the way the Rams did, just imagine what the Big 12’s talented backs are going to do. Fortunately, KU was opportunistic on defense by creating a passel of turnovers, but it won’t be able to do that against the good teams.

KU might pick off one more win, but 2-10 will be the best it can do.

• KSU PLAYED TOUGH — Stanford was given a push by Kansas State in the season opener for both teams.

The Wildcats’ defense certainly showed its worthy of being as strong as any in the Big 12. Stanford had a hard time getting All-American Christian McCaffrey untracked and he needed a late long run to go over 100 yards.

The Kansas State offense, though, is a work in progress. Jesse Ertz made some questionable decisions and there’s a lot of room for improvement in the running game.

I still believe the Wildcats will be in the Big 12’s upper half, though Texas opened a lot of eyes on Monday by stunning Notre Dame in double-overtime.