By the time Friday night is over, McPherson High’s football team could be back in postseason play after last year’s hiccup.
MHS had its nine-year streak of making the playoffs snapped last year, but it can climb back aboard the playoff train with a win Friday at Wamego and a Hays loss to Abilene.
Kickoff for Friday’s long road trip is 7 p.m. Join Voice of the Bulldogs Matt Cole on the call, beginning at 6:45 on 96.7 KBBE-FM.
MHS marched to a 48-14 win over Hays in its district opener in a game expected to be much closer. Keying the win was an amazing first half in which the Bullpups led 34-0 and did not allow a first down. In addition, the Indians were held to minus-1 yard.
MHS coach Jace Pavlovich suited up several freshmen and the way things worked out, they got into the game along with the JVs.
“I was proud of how our kids competed against Hays,” said Pavlovich, whose team has won five straight and outscored the opponents 214-28 during that time. “They didn't care who was lining up opposite them, they executed with aggression. Our offensive and defensive line did a great job all night. We didn't do anything special (offensively) from the second quarter on and were able to rack up a ton of yards. One guy that really caught our attention is Brandon Wills. He played most of the game at fullback. He learned the position in one week and did a great job.”
Wamego, new to MHS’ district this year, hung with undefeated Abilene for a while, but then came an avalanche of Cowboy points as they rolled to a 50-14 rout. The Red Raiders are 3-4 on the year.
“Wamego is a tough team to figure out,” Pavlovich said. “They seem to do something a little different each week. They seem to rotate personnel in each week as well. I know they are well coached and are a program on the rise. They are getting a bunch of kids moving out of Manhattan, which helps their athletic programs out.”
One advantage of scouting Wamego is that Pavlovich also got a long look at Abilene, which hosts the Bullpups in the final game of the regular season next week.
“Abilene looked good on film,” Pavlovich said. “They played most of the game with their backup quarterback against Wamego. They ran wishbone most of the night and mixed up a 4-3 and a 4-4 look on defense.”
If form holds true on Friday, MHS is in and can start thinking long-term, though it will in no way discount the Abilene game.
“We would love to get a win first off, but if we can get a win by 21 or more that would ensure that we are going to the playoffs,” Pavlovich said. “If we are able to win our district, we would play Andale at home. If we would happen to get a runner-up spot in districts, we would play at Buhler.”
This will be the longest road trip of the year for the Bullpups, who have been a well-focused team all season.
“I have been pretty pleased with how our guys have been handling themselves throughout the course of the year,” Pavlovich said. “We have already addressed the road trip and the facilities we will play on Friday night. I really believe our kids will be focused and ready no matter where we play.”