Bullpups to put on the pads today

By Steve Sell
August 21, 2014

Thursday’s thoughts...

• PADS GO ON TODAY — Now we can get down to business.

Today is the first day for pads for most high school football teams.

It's probably been a good thing that teams so far have been in helmets only because the heat has been suffocating. McPherson High regularly takes 15-minute water breaks to keep players hydrated.

If you ask any coach how their team is doing so far, they'll say you can't tell because they're not in pads.

I've attended some MHS practices and I have to say that maybe I have underestimated the Bullpups a little bit. The offensive line is still an area of concern, as well as running back depth. I think defensively the team is going to have a lot of speed, though it won't have as much size as the past.

MHS will be on public display Aug. 29 for the annual Fall Preview.

• KU DECIMATED AT RUNNING BACK — Let’s face it. The Kansas Jayhawks are going to be lucky to win a Big 12 football game this season.

The Jayhawks were a slam-dunk choice to finish in last place in the Big 12 preseason polls and after the turn of events earlier this week, they probably have cemented their position.

On successive days, the Jayhawks lost their top two running backs. Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox, both bruising runners who have bided their time for the opportunity to replace longtime staple James Sims, went down with season-ending injuries.

That leaves KU with untested transfer De’Andre Mann and freshman Corey Avery. Defensive back Joe Dineen has been moved over from the defense.

Of course, there’s probably a lot of clamoring for KU coach Charlie Weis to move receiver Tony Pierson — arguably the team’s most explosive player — back to running back where he excelled for two years when he wasn’t sidelined with numerous ails.

The longest of long shots is that standout linebacker Ben Heeney, who ran wild for the Hutchinson Salthawks in high school but is now the KU defensive captain, could go both ways. He said Wednesday he would be up to toting the pig a few times if the team needed it.

The Jayhawks were counting on their running game to take the heat off second-year quarterback Montell Cozart, who is probably the shakiest starting quarterback in the Big 12. Yes, Cozart is athletic, but he’s not a good passer and given the expected porousness of the line, the offense could have a hard time generating points.

KU fans may be asking earlier than normal their usual question: when does basketball start?

• SWEDES' ROSTER AT 129 — A check of the most recent Bethany College football roster posted on the school's website shows the Swedes' squad size at 129.

I haven't checked the other schools in the conference, but it would be my guess there are no schools that have more as coach Manny Matsakis and his staff beat the bushes for players.

Among the names that caught my eye was Matt Guerrero, who attended Smoky Valley High School for his senior year only and eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing barrier. He also was outstanding in the return game as he was a driving force behind the Vikings' 7-2 record.

Matsakis, who at KCAC Media Day said he had 12 quarterbacks, lists 10 on his current roster, including Bo Savage, son of Canton-Galva football coach Jeff Savage. Savage was probably the best quarterback for the Swedes in the spring game and Matsakis said during Media Day that he's probably one of three top contenders, the others being transfers Jake Umphreyville and Virgil Bridges.

The Swedes may be the KCAC's biggest unknown this season since they have added approximately 90 new players.

• SELF OFFERS EUDORA SOPHOMORE — I need to hit the Internet and find some film highlights of Eudora’s Mitchell Ballock.

Ballock is only a sophomore at the Class 4A Division II school, yet he’s shown KU basketball coach Bill Self enough to be extended a scholarship offer once he completes his final THREE years of high school.

Ballock is a 6-4 guard who reportedly shoots it like nobody’s business as he averaged 21 points a game as a ninth-grader. He hasn’t said yet if he’s going to accept, but c’mon. This is KU we’re talking about, college basketball royalty, a blue blood. Hard to imagine him saying no.

Eudora was 20-5 last year and graduates four seniors off a state championship team, among them Ballock’s older brother, Andrew.