Monday Morning Quarterback: Bullpups appear primed for district play

By Steve Sell
October 10, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• REAL SEASON TO BEGIN — McPherson High finished the “preseason” on a four-game winning streak, keynoted by a defense that gave up just two touchdowns in the last 16 quarters.

The 44-8 rout of Rose Hill on Friday was the Bullpups' final pre-district tuneup as Hays comes to town on Friday for the beginning of the “real” season.

6-0, 5-1, 4-2, it doesn’t matter what MHS' record was these first six games. It was about getting better and peaking come Week 7.

This is a far better Bullpup team taking the field now than the one that opened the season. Coach Jace Pavlovich has done an excellent job of preparing the team for the key stretch of games.

The defense, as has been mentioned frequently, has lived up to its billing. It’s one of the smallest defenses the Bullpups have put on the field in recent years, but the quickness it has exhibited has been stunning. Whether MHS goes with a four-man front or the odd front in which the back eight is there to clean up, it’s been effective.

My only concern moving forward is the Bullpups haven’t faced a quality throwing quarterback all season. A plus, though, is that thunderous defensive ends Wyatt Seidl and Caleb Spaich provide a lot of pressure and the Bullpups throw a myriad of blitzes in likely passing downs.

Offensively, the Bullpups continue to roll off 100-yard rushers like cars off an assembly line. Honestee Whittker became the third different MHS back to thrive as a check of the stats off the film showed he had 103 on 25 carries. Once he shook off the jitters of his first start, he was outstanding. Hopefully Andrew Powell and Tyson Stites will be healthy for this week, but at least the Bullpups know Whittker can deliver.

Casen Hoover has been a real leader at quarterback and has two of the best receivers around in Jeff Reed and Jack Reifschneider. Thomas Diggs is always a threat down the seam.

The offensive line has been cohesive and consistent. Not overly big, it plays with a lot of determination. 

MHS may have found a kicker on Friday as Drew Labertew made the most of his chance as it’s been like open tryouts all season. Hoover hammered his three punts.

Hays is 1-5, but reportedly has about four players who could suit up for any top team. The playoffs start now and I have a feeling the Bullpups will be focused and ready.

• ANOTHER TOUGH LOSS FOR MAC — An offense that churned out 52 points and a defense that forced seven total turnovers, including six interceptions.

And still no win.

It’s obvious McPherson College’s Bulldogs are just a handful players away from being a KCAC factor.

Mac had KCAC contender Ottawa down 45-31 midway in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but the Bulldogs’ lack of depth on the defensive side again reared its ugly head as it gave up 27 points in the final quarter of a 55-52 loss.

This is another difficult pill to swallow for the Bulldogs, who have lost three games by five points or less and two by a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Ottawa ran a staggering 100 offensive plays and it’s simply too much to ask of a defense to keep the finger in the dike that long. The Braves had 487 yards on the ground and every time it tried to throw the Bulldogs seemingly picked it off.

Ed Crouch and Tyrone Campbell continue to dominate the offense, combining for five touchdowns and both were over 100 yards on the ground. The 52 points Mac scored on Saturday nearly matched its entire output for last season when the Bulldogs were offensively challenged.

I still believe when Mac coach Paul Mierkiewicz can get the numbers in the 90 to 100 range as he would like, this is a program that’s going to be right there in the conference hunt. The ‘Dogs are one more big recruiting class away from being a 7- or 8-win team.

• KUDOS TO KU — I’ve been hard on the Kansas Jayhawks throughout the year, but the defense stepped up and played mightily on Saturday in a 24-23 loss to TCU and the offense actually outgained the Horned Frogs substantially.

The biggest problem the team has is that it simply doesn’t know how to win. It carried a 23-14 lead into the fourth quarter, but I know I, like others I talked with, never thought the team was going to hang on.

Three missed field goals in the fourth quarter didn’t help, though asking Matthew Wyman to make a 54-yarder to decide the game put the young man in a difficult spot. He certainly has the leg to make long kicks, but his accuracy is like that of a Phil Mickelson tee shot.

KU goes to Baylor this week and I think the emotional toll of the TCU game is going to cause the Jayhawks to come out flat and the result will be a blowout. At least the Jayhawks are now being competitive — they were in the Texas Tech game for the better part of three quarters — though the fans are staying away in droves. I just cringed when the camera kept panning the crowd and there maybe was 20,000 there at the height of the day. If they win, however, they will come.

• BIG WIN FOR ‘CATS — It’s a game that Kansas State had to have to challenge for the upper division in the Big 12.

Saturday’s night’s 44-38 victory over Texas Tech should inspire the Wildcats, who will be a tough out for anybody at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Despite the 38 points allowed, this was a good defensive effort — if there is such a thing in the wide-open Big 12. KSU’s offense is still rather vanilla, but you have to go with what works. Texas Tech, though, is probably the second-worst defense in the Big 12, maybe the worst given the way Kansas played the last two weeks.

The Wildcats need to pick off one of the biggies if they’re to get to the eight-win season that I predicted for them.

• CHIEFS OFF — Hopefully the Chiefs will address all facets of the game during the off week.

By all rights they should be 1-3 as they simply stole a victory from San Diego in Week 1. The 2-2 Chiefs have to start committing more to the run and on defense, shore up the secondary that has been toasted nearly every week.