It’s Opening Day.
Practices for high school sports got under way today — including the annual midnight practice by the boys soccer team under the lights at McPherson Stadium.
It is hoped for the outdoor sports that the cooler conditions we have enjoyed recently will continue.
Here’s a capsule look at what to expect at McPherson High:
• Boys soccer — Coach Chris Adrian is going to have one of his youngest teams and the immediate focus will be on offense as he must replace the irrepressible duo of Andric McGill and Patrick Munsey, who accounted for a huge chunk of the scoring last year. Finding a new goalie to replace the graduated Tanner Rose is also a must. The Bullpups will be headlined by All-Staters Darrius Armstrong and Devin Cape.
• Girls tennis — Like Adrian, tennis coach Tyler Brown must forge on without his Class 4A state championship doubles team of Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers. They breezed to the championship last year after finishing second in the state the year before. Ediger also was a state runner-up in singles as a freshman. Brown, however, has three quality players as his nucleus in Maisie Edmonson, Taylor Bruce and Rachel Carlson.
• Cross country — Second-year coach Aspen Lott certainly won’t be hurting for numbers as the squad size is expected to be one of the largest in recent memory. Lott has a healthy number of boys returning and the girls team could be in double figures. The Bullpups are looking to get back into the state picture after a couple of down years.
• Volleyball — Item No. 1 on the agenda is replacing probable All-Stater Mandi Cooks, who suffered a season-ending injury over the summer. The Bullpups have been known for their tall, athletic hitters during coach Christy Doile’s tremendous tenure and developing finishers at the net could be the difference as they attempt to qualify for state for an amazing eighth year in a row. Doile has developed a complete program, as the JV and freshmen teams have been strong through the years, one reason there’s generally not much of a falloff.
• Football — Expectations for the Bullpups could be unfairly off the charts, but coach Jace Pavlovich has an experienced team that is coming off an eight-win season and playoff appearance. The Bullpups, who open the season in what may be the Game of the Night in Kansas when they play Sept. 1 at Buhler, are going to bank heavily on what should be an exciting defense, as there’s tremendous speed in the back seven. Offensively, the Bullpups have a reservoir of running backs, so look for them to keep the ball more on the ground. The season could hinge, however, on how quickly a brand-new offensive line develops as Pavlovich graduated an all-senior unit. An overall lack of size is a concern, but few teams will be quicker on both sides of the ball.