McPherson High’s football team clinched the district championship with a week to spare here Friday night.
With a 47-0 waxing of Wamego at a packed McPherson Stadium, the Bullpups will have a first-round home playoff game in two weeks, most likely against Buhler.
MHS is 2-0 in the district, while Wamego and Hays are 1-1 and Abilene is 0-2. Hays and Wamego meet next week, with the winner earning the second spot and playing on the road in the first round. Hays pasted Abilene 36-0, a surprising score given how Hays played last week.
The Bullpups needed a quarter to figure out the weighty Red Raiders, who had three 300-pound linemen who also can move a bit. The first quarter was scoreless, but MHS exploded for 26 points in the second quarter and had the game in running clock near the end of the third quarter by adding three more touchdowns.
“Our guys played well,” said MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team is now 7-1 overall. “That’s a good defensive line. That’s a big defensive line. Those two interior kids are going to be playing on Saturday (collegiately) in a few years. They’re good football players. It was a struggle to figure out what they were in. We saw a bunch of different looks, uncharacteristic looks. Our guys just executed well.”
MHS had tremendous offensive balance. The Bullpups ran the ball 34 times for 197 yards and threw it 33 times, completing 22, for 261 yards.
“Our guys offensively, that (balance) is what makes us difficult to prepare for,” Pavlovich said. “So many weapons offensively. We can run the ball, we can pass the ball. Having that balanced attack really helps us out. And defensively we played phenomenal once again tonight.”
Jace Kinnamon scored MHS’ first two TDs and finished with 98 yards on 18 carries in about 2 1/2 quarters. Kyler Hoppes was 21 of 31 for 251 yards and pitched two TD strikes to Gabe Hoover and another to Chandler Wiard. Talyn Huff had 8 catches for 101 yards and Hoover had 7 for 80.
Austen Hunt had a rushing touchdown and the defense once again got into the scoring act with a Tyson Stites 51-yard interception return. Ben Nikkel also had a pick and fumble recovery to help highlight the defensive effort.
Wamego was held to just 83 yards, more than half of that after the first-team defense left the field. It did not register a first down until midway through the third quarter.
With the district clinched, Pavlovich now has some options as to how he wants to play this final game against Abilene as the goal will be not just to win, but keep everybody healthy.
“Health is a major concern,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to get to 45 tonight quickly. We wanted to get some of our guys out. Honestly, we were not expecting a running clock tonight and it’s a good problem to have. Next week, hopefully, we can play good football early and get some of guys out of there and get them ready and fresh for Buhler.”