• GETTING CLOSER TO FALL SPORTS— We're edging more and more toward the fall sports season.
The true indicator of that occurred Monday when McPherson High football coach Tom Young released his media information sheet about the upcoming season.
MHS was touched by the football gods back in 2006 when Young fell into the Bullpups' lap after he had been at Leavenworth for two years. Prior to that, though, he was renowned throughout the state for his successes at Hanover, Wellington and for many years, Derby. He won state championships at each of those latter three schools. He takes a staggering 336-108 career record into his mind-boggling 44th season as a head coach.
MHS enjoyed some terrific years under Dave Hugg, John Hoffman and Tim Wesselowski in the 1970s and 1980s in the brutal Ark Valley League, but in the 1990s managed only 28 wins as the bottom dropped out. Winning seasons were infrequent, but all that changed when Young took over.
All he has done in eight years is lead the Bullpups to the playoffs in each (after they had been spectators for 18 years) and compile a 65-22 record. The 'Pups have produced some amazing offensive teams, as they've had a run of talented operatives at quarterback, running back and receiver, while the lines have been big and talented. MHS hasn't had quite the prowess on the defensive side, but really hasn't needed to since the offense was so high-octane.
Young actually had his "worst" record at MHS last year, but for a 6-5 season it was punctuated by a lot of exciting moments. Quarterback Kyler Kinnamon broke Dwayne Chandler's single-season rushing record by finishing with 1,662 yards and also threw for 1,154. TJ Stites didn't start at running back until the fifth game, yet went over the 1,000-yard mark. Kinnamon is back this year, but is seeking a complement in the backfield to take the pressure off.
Young returns six offensive starters and eight defensive starters, with 26 lettermen in all. He's going to have a team, though, that will have to have a lot of players go both ways and need to be injury-free.
The schedule may perhaps be the toughest in school history, as the Bullpups open at 5A state runner-up Salina South (on a Thursday), then host perennial 4A state contender Andale. The district includes Abilene, Buhler and Hays, the latter two teams perhaps ranked in the Top 5 in the preseason. Hays could very well be No. 1 and Buhler is coming off a state championship season. Hays quarterback Alex Delton has committed to Kansas State and Buhler quarterback Jace Williams may be the best junior signal caller in the state.
You can bet Young and his staff will have the Bullpups well prepared for that Sept. 4 opener in Salina.
• ALL-STAR GAME TONIGHT — Major league baseball has fallen far behind the NFL and NBA in terms of popularity. Some might even argue after the past few weeks that soccer is now the No. 3 favorite sport of our culture.
But baseball does something better than the other sports -- put on a show for its All-Star Game.
The NFL All-Pro Game is a joke. It’s nothing more than glorified flag football as the players worry more about getting injured than winning the game. The NBA All-Star Game is basically a dunking exhibition, as defense is only an afterthought. And how many people in these parts, except for the diehards, watch the NHL All-Star Game?
Baseball’s All-Star Game, which is set for tonight, has true meaning. The winning team has the homefield advantage for the World Series, which is huge. If the Series goes to seven games, more often than not the home team will be favored.
And unlike football and basketball, baseball players go hard to the best of their abilities. There’s no way a player can ill-afford to go half-speed. And that’s one reason the game generally is competitive, though in recent years the pitching has gotten so good that the hitters are overwhelmed.