MHS seeks third straight shutout

By Steve Sell
September 29, 2016
Kendall Shaw

Jace Pavlovich does not believe there will be a letdown for his McPherson High football team on Friday when it hosts Circle in the annual homecoming game at McPherson Stadium.

It’s also the Bullpups’ fourth home game in five weeks, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

For those who can’t make it, join Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole for all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM, with pre-game chat starting at 6:45.

This is the first-ever meeting between the schools as Circle has bumped up to Division III this season. The T-Birds ended a 36-game losing streak in Week 2 by defeating Winfield and then nearly won for the second time last week before giving up a late touchdown to lose 42-38 to Coffeyville.

But it’s also a T-Bird team that trailed Maize South 59-0 at halftime. MHS lost 14-6 to the Mavericks on a late South score.

Pavlovich, though, is preparing his team as if it’s playing the Green Bay Packers. All focus is on the T-Birds and not the district schedule that is getting closer by the week.

“I don't think so,” Pavlovich said of a possible letdown with the pomp-and-circumstance  distractions that accompany homecoming. “Our kids want to win, period. They know it’s going to take a focused effort throughout the week and on Friday to get a win.”

The Bullpups’ focus against Augusta last week was razor sharp. What was called by many to be a game that could be decided by a touchdown or less turned into a Bullpup romp as they sped to a 32-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-0 victory that saw the second team play the fourth quarter. It was MHS’ second straight shutout and the defense is taking pride in being so stingy.

“We were physical and our kids executed well on both sides of the ball,” Pavlovich said.  “There is still room for improvement. I love how aggressive our kids played, but we need to shore up some technique errors in every position.”

The Bullpups could have a swap of injured players. Lineman Dylan Baldwin (knee) could possibly be back this week, but tackling machine Jayse Alexander is doubtful with a slight concussion.

“We might get Baldwin back this week,” Pavlovich said. “Alexander could probably play, but we are going to be overly cautious with him.  Injuries happen, the next guy in has a chance to show that he can get it done for us.  The guys that we had come in and play did a great job against a quality opponent. Dawson Van Goethem performed very well at left tackle offensively, Honestee Whittker and Jace Kinnamon both proved that they can be Friday night players as well.”

Whittker and Kinnamon can play linebacker on defense, which is Alexander’s position. Chances are probably better than good Alexander will be given another week to recover since the Bullpups are stocked at that position.

While it’s still early, the Bullpups can’t help but be taking a peek at the district. 

“Hays is a very good team,” Pavlovich said. “Their record (1-3) is not an accurate portrayal of their team. They play 5A and 6A opponents each and every week.  If they are healthy, they can beat anyone in 4A. They have four kids that are special. I know absolutely nothing about Wamego (1-3). We are working to get some film on them, but we really don't know much beyond the fact that they have a talented QB. Abilene is Abilene.  They are big, physical and skilled.  I would expect them to be undefeated when we play them.”