My, how the scenario has changed.
What was supposed to be the district championship showdown game Friday night in Abilene has turned into a must-win situation for the Cowboys.
McPherson High travels to play the suddenly concerned Cowboys, who are going to be rooting hard for the Wamego Red Raiders while trying to take care of their own business.
Kickoff is 7 p.m., with pre-game on 96.7 KBBE-FM set for 6:45 as Matt Cole will be on the call.
There are no worries for the Bullpups, who have a playoff spot sewn up. But they do want to win to secure a homefield game for next Friday, with the likely opponent being Andale.
Provided Hays defeats Wamego, MHS could still lose to Abilene and win the district, provided it isn’t blown out. MHS is a plus-42 in the points while Abilene is a plus-10, so it does give the Bullpups some wiggle room should they happen to have their six-game winning streak snapped. Hays is at minus-10. If the Indians lose to Wamego and Abilene defeats MHS, the Bullpups would go on the road next week to Buhler.
The district became a sweat zone for Abilene when it lost for the first time this season last week (23-12) to Hays, which had been blown out by McPherson the week before. Should McPherson win and Hays goes on the road to knock off Wamego, the Indians would be the second qualifier and Abilene would be staying home with a 7-2 record.
“It is crucial for us to get a win so we can guarantee a home game in the first round of playoffs,” MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. “We love to play at home and appreciate the great support we get. I can think of no better place to be when facing Andale.”
He also knows the desperate mode the Cowboys will be in.
“This is a must-win game for them,” Pavlovich said. “They spoiled our postseason hopes last year at home, we owe them in return this season. We are treating this one as a must-win game as well.”
The Cowboys played last week without starting quarterback Ryan Wilson because of an injury. That made them a different team, though it wasn’t the only reason they lost.
“All reports suggest that he is going to play,” Pavlovich said.
The Bullpups slogged to a 27-0 victory over Wamego last week, keyed by a 20-point third-quarter burst that in no way resembled the sleepwalk of a 7-0 first half.
“Offensively we didn't execute as well as we have the last 5 weeks,” Pavlovich said. “We made some mistakes at every position that ended up costing us three more scores. Defensively, we were strong once again. We may not have a lot of size, but we can run well. This is shaping up to be one of the best defenses we have had in 11 years statistically.”
The victory was MHS’ sixth in a row after starting with losses to Buhler and Maize South, both 7-1 on the year.
“I was really happy with how Jared Ruth played on both sides of the ball,” Pavlovich said. “He is really having a great year. Britton Bate is another kid that simply has a motor that doesn’t stop. He plays both ways the entire game and we have not heard one complaint all year from him. Jack Reifschneider had a great game on both sides as well. The more touches we can give him in a game, the better we are.”
Reifschneider had a versatile game. He returned a punt 43 yards to set up the second score, picked off a pass to set up a third score and caught a touchdown pass from Casen Hoover to complete the scoring.