Abilene is going to pay a visit to McPherson Stadium on Friday.
So is Old Man Winter.
After playing their first eight games in mostly balmy conditions, McPherson High’s season finale on Friday against Abilene will resemble the Ice Bowl.
Well, maybe not ice, but temperatures are going to be in the low 30s with wind chills perhaps in the high 20s.
“It’s going to be frigid out there,” MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said as his team seeks to close the regular season with an 8-1 record. “But we’re going to do what we do no matter what. This doesn’t affect us. It’s all about a mind-set.”
Kickoff for Senior Night is set for 7 p.m. Listen to all the action on 96.7 KBBE-FM with Voice of the Bullpups Jim Joyner on the call. Pregame is 6:30.
In actuality, the game is meaningless for both teams. The Bullpups clinched the district title last week with a 47-0 blanking of Wamego, after they had defeated Hays 48-6 in the first round of the district.
Abilene was extinguished from the playoffs after an inexplicable 36-0 loss to Hays, after losing its district opener 28-27 to Wamego.
Wamego and Hays meet on Friday to determine the district runner-up.
For Pavlovich, there are two goals — win the game and stay injury-free.
“We just want to execute and execute very well so we can get some of our young guys in and get ready for Buhler,” Pavlovich said. “Practice has been good. These kids have been focused. Bottom line is these kids love to play football. These senior kids know this is their night and we may have only five more weeks of this.”
Abilene has been a perennial power in recent years, but the bottom has fallen out this year. Traditionally when they have played the Bullpups, the Cowboys have been undefeated or with just one loss. But they’re just 2-6 this year, the wins coming against Thomas More Prep and Chapman.
“I think we have to assume they’re going to come in here and play lights-out,” Pavlovich said. “Because Abilene has always had tough kids who play incredibly hard. I know coach (Steve) Simpson is going to push for them to finish things off the right way. We expect their best.”
They’re on a four-game skid with defense the culprit. They have given up 36 points a game during that stretch and have been especially vulnerable against the run. Hays, which had minus yards rushing against the Bullpups, had two backs with more than 100 yards.
Last week the offense contributed to the defeat as the Cowboys managed just 162 total yards, which has to make them wonder how they’ll move the ball against the rock-solid Bullpup defense.
“They’ve struggled for an identity offensively,” Pavlovich said. “They’ve gone from one back to two backs to three backs. We’ve seen a little bit of everything on film and we’ve got to prepare for everything we’ve seen on film.”
The MHS coaching staff will turn its total attentions to Buhler following Friday’s game. The Crusaders will come to McPherson Stadium next Friday for the first round of district play and it’s a rematch of the season opener, won 33-21 by the Bullpups, which was the kick-start to their season.
“We’ve been working on it and I even have (former MHS) coach (Tom) Young looking at some film on Buhler right now,” said Pavlovich, who leaves no stone unturned. “Sure we want to win this game and we’re focused on Abilene. But next week is on our minds.”