WAMEGO — McPherson High’s football team completed the first step in the two-step process Friday night.
With a 27-0 rout of Wamego, the Bullpups clinched their 10th playoff spot in the last 11 years.
Now they want to win the district and secure homefield advantage for the first round.
"First off and foremost, we got ourselves in the playoffs," said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team is now 6-2 and erased the pain of last year's playoff miss. "If we play that poorly and still win a game, we feel pretty good where we're at."
The Bullpups are 2-0 in district play and a plus-42. The real shocker came in Hays as the Indians handed Abilene its first loss, 23-12. That makes Abilene 1-1 and plus-10, while Hays is 1-1 and minus-10. Wamego is 0-2 and minus-42.
The Bullpups head to Abilene next Friday and could win the district even with a loss if it has the better point differential. According to reports, Abilene was without starting quarterback Ryan Wilson in its loss due to an injury suffered last week.
The district winner is home for the first round of the postseason, while the loser goes on the road.
The Bullpups either will be hosting Andale or going on the road for a rematch with Buhler, which defeated MHS 27-13 the opening week of the season. Both the Indians and Crusaders have been ranked in the Top 5 all season, but Buhler outlasted Andale 28-21 in the first week of district play.
The victory was the Bullpups’ sixth straight, but this is the first time time they had endured some shaky moments since Week 2. They led only 7-0 at the half, but senior Jack Reifschneider stepped up with two huge plays early in the second half to allow the Bullpup fans to exhale.
A 43-yard Reifschneider punt return led to a 6-yard walk-in by Tyson Stites that made it 14-0. Three plays later, Reifschnieder picked off a pass and Casen Hoover scored on a one-yard run moments later for his second TD of the game as he had accounted for the only scoring in the first half on a 2-yard dive.
Before the quarter was over, Reifschneider caught a 47-yard TD pass from Hoover, which turned out to be the final MHS points.
"He's special," Pavlovich said of Reifschneider, who has played on through some nagging injuries. "We keep track of it, how many times does Jack touch the ball. He's got to touch the ball at least five times to 10 times a game depending on how close the game is."
The Red Raiders actually snapped it 56 times to 50 for the Bullpups as running back Alex Vontz had gritty game with 28 carries for 131 yards. Wamego moved it between the 20s, but MHS was able to keep the shutout.
Stites had 15 carries for 94 yards to lead the Bullpups. Reifschneider had 66 yards on four catches.
The Bullpups did force five turnovers, including picks by Reifschneider, Ben Nikkel and Gunner Reiss.