MHS to battle Rose Hill, rain here Friday

By Steve Sell
October 05, 2017
Kendall Shaw

It’s probably a good thing McPherson Stadium has an artificial surface.

Because if the weather forecast is correct, the Bullpups and Rose Hill could be playing in a downpour on Friday, provided lightning doesn’t interrupt the game. With the fake grass, the game won’t turn into a mudbath.

It’s Homcoming Night for MHS, which is scheduled to host the Rockets at 7 p.m. Catch all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call starting with the 6:30 pregame show.

It’s the final tune-up before the start of the “second season” next week as district play begins, with the Bullpups going to Hays.

For now, MHS is excited to be home for just the second time this season after playing four of five on the road.

“It’s so nice to be home,” MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. “Hopefully we’ll be playing in front of a big crowd, but you never know about the weather. But we’re excited to be home in our comfort zone in front of our fans. I hope there’s a big crowd.”

Homecoming is a problem for some teams’ focus, but the Bullpups have been able to avoid the distractions during Pavlovich’s time here.

“Coaches hate homecoming across the board, but to be honest ever since I’ve been here the administration and kids have handled it so well, it’s really not that much of a distraction and our record has proven that over the years,” he said.

Pavlovich said he and his coaching staff have been taking measures in case the expected rain does come to fruition.

“Typically we’ll go inside to keep things crisp in practice, but knowing it’s going to be a torrential rain Friday night, we have been practicing in the rain and we’ve wet down our footballs to get that slick feeling,” he said. “We want to still be able to throw the football. We’re not going to change what we do offensively. We’re still going to do what we do and the kids have executed well in practice.”

Rose Hill has given MHS some competitive games in recent years, though the Bullpups were a comfortable 48-14 winner last year. The Rockets are just 1-4 on the season, but entered into the win column for the first time last week by edging El Dorado, 21-14.

Pavlovich said the Rockets have been hindered by a spate of injuries, but said many of the key players who have been out may be back this week.

“We have the utmost respect for Rose Hill, and their program and their coaches,” Pavlovich said. “This summer at Fort Hays camp when we played them, our kids realized these guys are ready to play. If they are healthy come Friday, they’re going to be a team that will give us a battle for four quarters, we really expect that. We counted and they had eight starters out last week and still got a win. That’s been a trend for them. We keep noticing some of their key players in street clothes on the sidelines. Coach (Ray) Boese told me they’re going to be getting a lot of guys back this week.”

It’s not an explosive Rose Hill team as Nolan Ast is averaging just about 100 yards a game passing and he’s also the top rusher with just 232 yards. Dalton Rapp and Dylan Sapp are the top receivers, but neither has more than 161 yards on the year.

The Bullpups are coming off a 62-7 demolition of Circle in a game that had running clock the entire second half, when the Bullpups had their reserves on the field.

“We did a good job,” Pavlovich said. “We executed very well.”

If the rain does come in buckets, the Bullpups may have to pound it out on the ground. Jace Kinnamon leads MHS with 403 yards and six TDs and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games. Austen Hunt is averaging more than 5 yards a carry. Kyler Hoppes doesn’t run it much, but does have four scores.

Hoppes has been on fire throwing the ball, with four of his five games over 200 yards. Receivers Talyn Huff (12 catches for 255 yards), Chandler Wiard (11 for 302), Gabe Hoover (10 for 144), Thomas Diggs (9 for 127) and Ben Nikkel (9 for 113) have given MHS remarkable balance in the passing game.

Linebackers Jayse Alexander and Kollin Goering lead the team in tackles, with Michael Mendez, Cody Stufflebean and Gunnar Reiss right behind. Wyatt Seidl has 5 sacks and 9 tackles for losses as teams have been running away from him.