McPherson High’s football team is finally home again and it hopes it’s the first of at least three straight games at the friendly McPherson Stadium confines.
After playing five of their first seven games on the road, the Bullpups are home on Friday against Wamego and then close out district play the following Friday with Abilene coming to town.
And if MHS can emerge as the district champion, it earns yet another home game, most likely against Buhler in a rematch of the season opener won 33-21 by the Bullpups in Buhler.
"We love playing at home," MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said. "You look up there in the stands and it's packed full of red. There's nothing quite like it. Our kids deserve an atmosphere like that. Our kids look forward to playing in front of a very supportive community."
Kickoff for the Bullpups and Red Raiders is 7 p.m. Join live coverage on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call at 6:30 with all the pre-game paegentry.
MHS, in reality, has played only 1 1/2 games at home as its second game against Rose Hill was halted just into the second half due to lightning and the Bullpups in complete command.
Friday’s game is for the district lead as both teams won openers last week, MHS 48-6 over Hays and the Red Raiders 28-27 over Abilene in an overtime thriller. MHS is 6-1 overall and Wamego is 4-3, including three wins in a row by a combined total of five points.
This is easily the most imposing team the Bullpups have faced as the Red Raiders have three starting linemen who top the 300-pound mark.
"On their offensive line they go like 317, 310 and 320," Pavlovich said. "It's an NFL line in weight. They're huge and they do have some skill kids behind them."
Wamego is probably the most prolific offensive team the Bullpups have played since Week 1. Quarterback Justin Ebert is easily the best passer MHS has defensed this year as he is throwing for 117 yards a game. He’s also the team’s top rusher with 460 yards. Jayson Ebert, the twin brother, is the top receiver with 20 catches.
"They're a strange team offensively," Pavlovich said. "Sometimes it's hard to get a feel for what they want as their identity on offense. But they'll go 3-back wishbone under center one play and then no backs the next play. They do some really good things in the three-step passing game. Their RPOs (run-pass options) are well designed. They execute very well. We've got our plate full."
Pavlovich says what has been among the best things about this season is it that the Bullpups have been focused every game and have taken no nights off.
"We talked about it with the kids, when it comes down to districts every game is a must-win situation," he said. "Our kids have attacked it like that. All week has been tremendous. I'd be shocked if we ever have a letdown situation with these guys. As a coach you always want to make sure they're ready to play and focus on the right things. To be honest, these seniors and leaders know the situation. We’ll be ready to play.”
The Bullpups will be without Honestee Whittker the rest of the season as the starting defensive back is slated to have surgery soon for his broken thumb. He played with a cast last week and came up with an interception, but with surgery upcoming he’ll be sidelined the rest of the way. Pavlovich said it’s been amazing to see his improvement over last year and his place will be taken by sophomore Kaleb Hoppes.