• EXCITED FOR BULLPUP FOOTBALL — It’s apparent from the summer McPherson High’s football team has enjoyed that this has the makings of being a special season this fall.
The Bullpups went to Overland Park over the weekend and took second place in a 7-on-7 competition hosted by Blue Valley and attended mostly by 6A and 5A teams and some Missouri schools. Earlier this summer they went toe-to-toe with Garden City in a scrimmage, a team coming off a 9-1 season and stocked with talented returnees.
This is the year I think a lot of MHS fans have been pointing to for a while. This year’s senior class has been wildly successful not just in football, but other sports. MHS coach Jace Pavlovich has a large group that knows how to win and it’s highly motivated after being ousted by Maize South in the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs after winning an emotional first-round game against Andale on a final-minute field goal by Drew Labertew, still one of the most exciting finishes in all my years of covering MHS athletics.
All that’s missing from this year’s team will be size. This will be a team built on quickness and skill. Pavlovich must replace his all-senior offensive line, but he has some candidates who are worthy and eager to step up and meet the challenge.
Of course the hype surrounding the season is going to be off the charts as MHS opens at Buhler Sept. 1 in what could very well be the best game in Kansas on Opening Night. The Crusaders are going to be as loaded, perhaps even more, than the Bullpups. It will probably come down to Buhler’s explosive offense against the veteran McPherson defense.
Last year the Crusaders took advantage of MHS’ early miscues to sprint to a 20-0 first-quarter lead, but to MHS’ credit it battled back and lost only 26-13.
I know Pavlovich and his staff have worked overtime in preparing for the season and the young men who play for them have worked diligently in the weight room, as some of the kids will have a new, more-sculpted look when they take the field. I, for one, can’t wait.
• KCAC MEDIA DAY SET AUG. 3 — You know we’re getting close to the start of the KCAC football season when the announcement is made that Media Day is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Wichita.
I’m not sure when the first one was, but I still have a trophy for winning the Media Golf Tournament in 1981 that used to be held in conjunction with the event. Whatever happened to that tournament anyway? It was a nice perk by the KCAC. All those years we held the Media Day at Salina Country Club and we never got to play the course once. Criminal!
Anyhow, it’s not going to be the same this year without Friends’ Monty Lewis, who was ousted after last season despite having a tremendous 14-year run as head coach. We media types enjoyed Monty, whose passion for the KCAC and its success was second to none. His Falcon teams were always among the best in the conference, but apparently the school decided to go in a different direction. His speeches at Media Day are legendary as he shot from the hip and was as honest as he could be.
Dion Meneley is the new Falcon coach and comes from Hutchinson Community College, where he served as defensive coordinator. My guess is the Falcons will be chockfull of junior college transfers this season given the contacts Meneley probably has around the Kansas JCs, which is known for producing big-time players, though maybe not to the degree it used to.
• SORIA’S FUTURE? — How much longer can Kansas City manager Ned Yost keep running Joakim Soria out to protect leads and the end result is a tie game or the Royals being behind?
Soria blew his second save in the last week and sixth overall on Sunday against Texas, but the Royals bailed him out by scoring in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory.
Soria is clearly not the Soria of old when he was “Automatic Jack.” He doesn’t have the velocity he once did and too many pitches are left up to be mangled.
The Royals once had their “HDH” bullpen of Kelvin Herrera in the seventh, Wade Davis in the eighth and Greg Holland in the ninth. All that’s left is Herrera, who has been shaky at times, while Holland and Davis are All-Stars for Colorado and Chicago, respectively. It was assuring back then for Royals pitchers to know all they had to do was have the lead after six innings and the game was virtually over.
Now the Royals have Mike Minor in the seventh, Soria in the eighth and Herrera in the ninth. If Soria continues to have missteps, Minor could end up being the eighth-inning guy.