McPherson High’s football team is hoping this is Week 1 of its revenge tour.
The Bullpups host Maize South at 7 p.m. Friday in the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs at McPherson Stadium. The teams met in Week 2, with the Mavericks scoring late in the game for a 14-6 victory.
That was the infamous “lightning game” where there were three stops and starts, with the evening finally ending at 11:38 p.m.
Should the Bullpups win, chances are better than good they would play Buhler again in the semifinals, another game that would be at McPherson Stadium. The Crusaders, a 27-13 winner over the Bullpups in Week 1, are expected to take care of Mulvane, but that’s why they play the games. If MHS wins and Mulvane wins, the Bullpups go on the road.
Join Voice of the Bullpups Matt Cole for all the action starting at 6:45 p.m. on 96.7 KBBE-FM. Once again, the SRO sign is expected to be out as McPherson Stadium should be abuzz.
MHS has excited its fan base as it rallied for a 21-20 victory over ranked Andale last week, winning with 13 seconds left on a 27-yard true-blue field goal by Drew Labertew.
MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team is 8-0 after an 0-2 start, said he believes the Bullpups have their feet back on the ground after Friday's emotional high.
“The way our guys have responded to film session on Saturday and practice so far this week, they want more,” Pavlovich said. “I’ve said it a bunch this year, but our kids come to practice to get better every day and have a ton of enthusiasm while they are at it. I really can't imagine a better group to have.”
Maize South is 9-1, the only loss coming to Buhler. The Mavericks do nothing fancy and really had only one legitimate scoring drive in the earlier win against MHS as the other score came on a 48-yard run by Jason Perez, when he found a seam and was barely touched.
“If we can hold them to two touchdowns again, we have a great chance to win the game,” said Pavlovich, whose team has found its niche behind a strong running game and efficient passing game. “Offensively, we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage. Our running game was OK in Week 2, but it has drastically improved since then. We will have to be able to generate some big plays particularly in the passing game.”
The running game has been bolstered by the emergence of sophomore sledgehammer Jace Kinnamon, who has ripped off games of 123 and 141 yards the last two weeks after being a backup to Tyson Stites and Andrew Powell, both of whom have been battling injuries. Also, quarterback Casen Hoover ran possessed last week with 161 yards as time and again he made perfect reads on the zone stretch play.
Maize South, Pavlovich said, has gotten better as well.
“They have improved, too,” he said. “They are well coached. They have some quality wins on the year since we have played them. Their defense just keeps getting better and better.”
Yet, Pavlovich is expecting a different type of game Friday.
“I do think there will be more points scored this time around,” he said. “The weather was disastrous last time we played, which hurt both teams in the passing game. but you never know with 16-year-old kids.”
The Bullpups will be without starting noseguard Michael Mendez, who was concussed last week on a peel-back block that he never saw coming. Jared Ruth, who injured an ankle, is giving it a go though he’s not 100 percent.
As for the other game, Pavlovich isn’t quick to anoint Buhler as the winner just yet.
“That one is a toss-up,” he said. “Both teams are talented, both teams are well coached, both teams are used to winning. I am very interested to see who comes out on top with that one.”