Opening night is finally here

By Steve Sell
September 01, 2017

Friday’s favorites...

• PLAY BALL! — The hype meter has blown a gasket.

Enough already. It’s time to play the games.

High school football starts tonight, with of course the headline game being McPherson High at Buhler in a matchup of state-ranked Class 4A Division I teams.

It was the same as last year as they were Top 5 teams playing before an overflow crowd at McPherson Stadium. Buhler got off to a fast start as a couple of MHS gaffes and one blown coverage led to 20 Crusader points in the first half.

MHS charged back with 13 unanswered points before Buhler put the game out of reach with a touchdown in the closing minutes for a 26-13 success.

Not to be hyping the game anymore, but this should be a matchup of teams that will be in the 4A playoffs. Buhler appears to have a slight edge from the standpoint it returns more offensive weapons than the Bullpups, namely running back Dalton Brown. He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last year and the Crusaders’ line is big and strong.

The Bullpups, no question, have an elite defense. It also knows until the offense gains some reps because of so many new players, it’s going to be counted on to keep MHS in the game.

Kyler Hoppes has been named as the starting quarterback and what coach Jace Pavlovich wants from him is to make good decisions and play turnover-free. 

I’m all drained from the anticipation for this game. Let’s get it on.

• GOOD AREA GAMES — There’s also some good games in the area tonight.

Two especially have caught my eye. Hesston will be home and looking to atone for its loss in last year’s season opener to Garden Plain, while Smoky Valley also is looking to wash the bad taste out of its mouth when it hosts Halstead, which was a 30-point winner last year on opening night.

Hesston lost the prolific Zach Esau-to-Zach Vogt combination, but the Swathers can hand the ball to battering ram Parker Roth and he’ll surely rumble. Hesston has a large-and-experienced offensive line that should be able to move people. It will be interesting to see how Cameron Cox, a terrific wide receiver as a sophomore, makes the transition to quarterback.

Smoky Valley was a junior-dominated team last year and caught fire toward the end of the season, even winning a playoff game before having its season ended by eventual 4A D-II state champion Pratt. The Vikes were thumped by Halstead last year, but that was last year. If Kyle Anderson, Riley Odell and Brett Heitschmidt pick up where they left off, the Vikings should be quite prolific offensively. Halstead also was an underclassmen-dominated team last year as it returns 12 starters.

Moundridge and Inman are home against Marion and Trinity Catholic, respectively. Little River heads to Centre and Canton-Galva is at Solomon.

• MAGAZINE REMINDER — McPherson and area sports fans are reminded to pick up their free copy of the Mid Kansas Sports Magazine.

The magazine previews all MHS and area fall sports, complete with schedules. There also is my column and one by Jim Joyner, new “Voice of the Bullpups.”

In addition, there’s the ultimate sports quiz so you can test your knowledge.

Magazines are available at 96.7 KBBE, 411 E. Euclid. They have been distributed to the area schools as well and the athletic directors have the copies. Also, we will have them available at the first MHS home soccer game and home football game.