The last five meetings between McPherson High’s football team and Winfield have been downright ugly.
The Bullpups have outscored the Vikings 232-21, with most of the games being decided by the end of the first quarter.
Included in that domination was a three-year stretch where MHS scored 147 uninterrupted points as the Bullpup defense pitched three straight shutouts.
But the times they are a changin’ in Winfield. The Vikings surprised many around the state in their season opener last Friday by winning the Cowley County Cup with a 20-18 shocker over an Arkansas City team that went deep into the playoffs last year. Winfield scored with 24 seconds left in the game to outlast their arch-rival.
That performance certainly warranted the full attention of McPherson High coach Jace Pavlovich, whose team makes its home debut on Friday against the Vikings.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at McPherson Stadium. 96.7 KBBE takes the air at 6:00 with “Voice of the Bullpups” Jim Joyner on the call.
“Winfield is very well coached. Coach (Linn) Hibbs has won multiple state championships and preaches toughness and his kids have really responded,” Pavlovich said. “Winfield teams of old, we would win games before we got off the bus. But that’s not the case with this group and this program anymore. Last year Winfield was the second-best team in our league, I really think they were. And this year I think they could be as well. So this is going to be a dogfight Friday night. We expect that and are actually looking forward to that.”
The Vikings have nice balance as they rushed for 136 yards and passed for 132 last week. KC Crandall is a three-year regular at quarterback and has a good back in Nolan Foust (78 yards on 17 carries week) and a top-notch receiver in Chance Price (5 catches for 74 yards).
“They do some really good things offensively,” Pavlovich said. “They try to get you out of position. Our guys have handled that motion game really well in practice. Defensive they’re a 4-2-5 and bring some stunts and blitzes that can cause some problems.”
The Bullpups opened their season with a 29-17 victory over Salina South, overcoming a 10-0 deficit the Cougars carried nearly to halftime before a late MHS score swung the momentum and the Bullpups responded with a 16-point third quarter.
“I really liked how physical we were,” Pavlovich said. “I felt our guys came out and executed really well, even in the first half. Salina South has a good defense. Their safeties were really active. Once we started stretching them vertically and softened them up a little bit, we got our running game going.”
Kaleb Hoppes made his first start at quarterback and officially threw for 231 yards with a couple of TDs, which included a 99-yarder to Aaron Powell that broke the school record of 93 by Kyler Hoppes to Chandler Wiard against Buhler. He also showed some hard-nosed running with 68 yards on 15 carries. Powell finished with 9 catches for 158 yards.
On defense, Mason Thrash was a tackling machine with 17, while Cody Stufflebean added 10, including two tackles for losses. Jayton Alexander (9), Keaten Stockham (8) and Brycen Labertew (8) also were active.
Following Friday night’s game, it will be “Poster Night.” The seniors will be on the field and fans have the opportunity to have them sign posters that will be given out.