Monday Morning Quarterback: Bullpups hitting their stride

By Steve Sell
September 26, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• BULLPUPS ARE CHARGING — You could just sense it on the field during warmups.

McPherson High’s football team was focused like it hasn’t been before this season on Friday.

And that was bad news for previously undefeated Augusta. An expected close game turned into an unmitigated rout as the Bullpups sped to a 32-0 halftime lead and then cruised to a 41-0 victory, their second straight shutout and it avenged last year’s loss to the Orioles.

And with the soft underbelly of the schedule supposedly coming up the next two weeks, the Bullpup defense could go on quite a shutout streak if it plays with the same zeal and enthusiasm.

The Augusta offense could not even score on the series it had against the second-team defense. The MHS underlings took pride when they came into the game and continued the string of zeroes.

While the defense was its usual fortress-like self, there was an offensive revelation as MHS unleashed an unstoppable passing game as well as a powerful running game.

Quarterback Casen Hoover threw for 237 yards and four scores, three of them to little bro Gabe, who had a breakout game with five catches for 71 yards.

Andrew Powell zipped and zagged to 101 yards on just 9 carries, including a bobbing-and-weaving 57-yarder that was breathtaking.

All-in-all, this was by far the most complete effort of the year as the Bullpups are starting to play like the team that was envisioned before back-to-back losses threw an early pall on the season.

With Circle and Rose Hill coming up, I’ll be shocked if the Bullpups aren’t 4-2 heading into district play.

• TOUGH LOSS FOR ‘DOGS — Saturday night’s postponement seemed to take a lot out of both McPherson College and Bethel when they played the make-up football game on Sunday in North Newton.

Both teams seemed a step behind and the yawner of a first half produced just a single field goal, that by Bethel.

Mac scored on its first possession of the second half for a 7-3 lead and then wasted a golden chance in the third quarter when a run to the Bethel 1 was called back. The Bulldogs came away from that drive with no points and then the Threshers dominated the fourth quarter to pull out the 10-7 win.

The Bulldogs’ Travis Steenson continues to play like an All-American, though he probably won’t be accorded that honor since Mac is not a ranked team. He was in on 16 more tackles on Sunday, his fourth straight double-digit game. He threw in two sacks for good measure.

Bethel did a good job of taking away the legs of quarterback Ed Crouch and its pressure on him stymied the Mac passing game, not to mention there were a few key drops. Tyrone Campbell continues to be a model of consistency as the lone Mac running back as he had 90 yards, that after going for 88 last week.

Coach Paul Mierkiewicz said a problem for the offense might be it that it’s getting a little too predictable and that’s on him. Look for a few new wrinkles when the Bulldogs are home Saturday to take on Kansas Wesleyan.

• EASY FOR K-STATE — Lightning may have saved Missouri State from an embarrassing score against Kansas State.

Saturday’s game was called at halftime because of lightning, but in essence it mercifully put an end to a lopsided 35-0 game.

The Big 12 starts in earnest this week and the Wildcats have no bargain in West Virginia, which perhaps has been the conference’s surprise team. I had K-State and West Virginia about even before the season so this should be a close game in Morgantown.

• KU OPENS THURSDAY — The Jayhawks had one of their best Saturdays — they didn’t play.

But they open Big 12 play on Thursday at Texas Tech and I fear for them. Their defense is going to get lit up like a Christmas tree, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Raiders don’t hit the Jayhawks with about 70 or 80 points.

Even with the extra preparation, it won’t matter. KU simply has only a smattering of Division I players on the defensive side as it will be incredibly overmatched.

• CHIEFS HAVE A PICK PARTY — Six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Not a bad day for the Chiefs’ defense in a strange 24-3 victory over New York’s J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets Jets.

The six-pack of picks was stunning as five of them came on New York’s last five possessions of the game. The Chiefs scored two non-offensive touchdowns as Derrick Johnson had a pick-six and Demetrious Harris returned a fumble for a touchdown on a kickoff play.

The offense thus only produced 10 points, which is a source of concern. Alex Smith was efficient throwing the ball, but Spencer Ware managed only 75 yards on 20 carries. The Chiefs need much more than the 72 net yards they had on the ground, they’re a team that should be around the 140-mark.

Of course, it was another win without Jamaal Charles. When he gets back, he should have fresh legs and add a lot of juice to the offense.