Monday morning quarterback...
• BULLPUPS SECURE PLAYOFF SPOT — You know you’ve got a pretty good football team when you defeat a decent opponent without your “A” game.
The Bullpups clinched their 10th playoff appearance in 11 years on Friday and erased last year’s bad playoff-miss memory with a 27-0 shutout of Wamego. Now they want to wrap up the district title and earn a first-round home playoff game against Andale.
It was only 7-0 at the half, but thanks to Jack Reifschneider the ‘Pups turned it on for 20 third-quarter points to calm their uneasy fans.
Reifschneider’s 43-yard punt return set up MHS’ first touchdown of the second half. Moments later, he came up with a pick, which led to another quick score. Also in the third quarter, he turned what should have been no more than a 5-yard gain into a 47-yard touchdown as he bobbed and weaved his way down the field behind some great blocking. The Bullpups’ wide receivers have no peers when it comes to blocking as they do a great job of helping one another out.
Wamego wasn’t a bad team and played with a chip on its shoulder. It is loaded with juniors and had two of the best defensive linemen MHS has faced this year. The Bullpups had a hard time getting a push up front for the first part of the game. Wamego also had one of the hardest runners of the year in Alex Vontz, yet another junior. To boot, the Red Raiders threw it better against the Bullpups than about any team this year, though MHS came up with three picks.
In a shocker, Abilene lost for the first time this year with a 23-12 setback on the road at Hays. The Indians had some of their playmakers back who missed the McPherson game.
Abilene was without quarterback Ryan Wilson, who I’m guessing will play against McPherson if at all possible. The Cowboys do have a strong running game if they decide to take that route.
If MHS defeats Abilene and Hays defeats Wamego, Abilene will be out. That gives the Cowboys a lot of incentive when they host MHS on Friday. Hopefully the Bullpups can match Abilene’s intensity.
• TOUGH DAY FOR ‘DOGS — McPherson College’s young football team is showing signs of wearing down as it’s now 8 weeks through the season.
For the first time this year, the Bulldogs didn’t seem to have the same fire of the first 7 weeks. Yet even without their best performance, they played KCAC tri-leader Saint Mary within 10 points, 17-7.
The Bulldog defense played well in terms of the scoreboard, but had a hard time getting off the field as it struggles on third down. Dalton Whitfield and Travis Steenson were all over the field as usual as both should be first-team KCAC picks despite the Bulldogs’ record.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have ridden quarterback Ed Crouch and running back Tyrone Campbell as hard as they can. Both are incredible talents, but are showing some signs of slowing down as they have taken a pounding. A priority for coach Paul Mierkiewicz this offseason is to add depth, especially at running back and wide receiver. When teams play at the pace Mac does, it needs a lot of backs and receivers.
The Bulldogs have a brutal stretch coming up with games at Tabor and Sterling. While Sterling isn’t one of the tri-leaders, its offense has put up 135 points the last 2 weeks — Oklahoma-like numbers.
• WILDCATS GREAT FOR A HALF — I have maintained all year that Kansas State will finish in the Top 3 of the Big 12.
The Wildcats took a big step toward that prediction by holding off Texas on Saturday. They were terrific in the first half, but went flat in the second half.
The key to the Wildcats is quarterback Jesse Ertz. They’re just not the same team when he’s not running the offense.
The Wildcats have the Big 12’s best defense. Jordan Willis is probably going to be the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year and it’s a quick unit.
The Wildcats have Iowa State this week and while the Cyclones in the past have had a penchant for surprising teams, this seems to be a down year.
• KU COMPETITVE — The Jayhawks had a moral victory on Saturday as they covered the spread against Oklahoma State.
A 28-point dog, KU lost 44-20 and it was much closer than the score indicated.
KU finally showed some signs of offense and it was because it moved the football on the ground. So many times this year coach David Beaty has given up way too early on the run in favor of his bubble-screen-based offense.
Turnovers continue to plague the ‘Hawks. Oklahoma State had a 17-point edge in points off turnovers. Take those away and it’s a one-score game.
KU plays at Oklahoma this week. Hide the women and children. We’ll see what kind of heart Big Game Bob Stoops has as the Sooners could probably score 80 if they want.
• CHIEFS SO-SO — The Chiefs held off New Orleans on Sunday to move to 4-2 on the year and stay in the thick of the AFC West race.
Kansas City never seemed in danger of losing. I thought it didn’t run the ball enough as Spencer Ware was pounding away early, then was forgotten for a while.
Speaking of forgotten, Jamaal Charles had one carry and was never heard from again. I know the Chiefs are protecting him, but one touch?
The defense gave up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points. Can D.J. White or Steven Nelson cover anybody? It seems like those guys were chasing after receivers all day.
It’s obvious the corner spot opposite Marcus Peters is the defense's weak link. In their defense, though, the Chiefs need to get more of a pass rush. Hopefully Justin Houston will be back soon and provide that missing element.