Tom Young knows what to expect. The question now is can his McPherson High football team stop it.
The Bullpups make their third road trip in four weeks on Friday when they load up and head to Rose Hill for a 7 p.m. clash. Coverage on 96.7 KBBE-FM begins at 6:30 p.m., with Nick Gosnell, who will later be joined on the call by Steve Sell.
The closeness of the game figures to depend on one factor — can the patchwork Bullpup secondary slow down the passing game of the Rockets’ Brett Bonar?
Bonar is coming off a sensational effort against El Dorado in which he lit up the Wildcats for 288 yards on an efficient 17 of 23. His three touchdown passes keyed a 46-14 victory, the Rockets’ first after losses to Wichita Collegiate and Winfield.
“It’s a little concerning because they have thrown the ball quite a bit,” Young said. “We haven’t defensed the pass real well. He (Bonar) does a nice job if given time and that’s going to be the whole key. We need to get pressure on him. We’ve been pretty good against the run this year, but not the pass.”
The MHS secondary has been in a state of flux all year as injury after injury has caused it to be revamped. Young is moving Kyler Kinnamon — who was to have played basically offense this year – from corner to safety, with Luke Williams taking his place at corner. Jason Anderson is on the other corner and he had a key fumble recovery last week that started the Bullpups on their way to their first win of the year, 32-20 over Augusta. Casey Cheek will join Kinnamon at safety.
Defensive backs Kolby Reed, Casen Hoover, Spenser Wine and Jack Reifschneider all have been hurt and won’t play, so depth is precious. Reifschneider is the most recent injury victim as he’s suffering from a toe injury.
“We’re trying to match our skills, our personnel, with what we want to do,” said Young, who hinted there might be some scheme changes this week. “We’re looking to run more of the zone-type coverage.”
It wasn’t that long ago — just 2011 in fact – that Rose Hill was the Class 4A state champion. But since then it has undergone a lot of changes and hasn’t come close to that past form. The Bullpups have played exceptionally well in both meetings the teams have had.
“They are a mystery team,” Young said. “Last year I just thought they didn’t play very well against us, but you look at scores down the line the rest of the season and they played very well against common opponents. We look for them to play well against us.”
While the Bullpups scored 32 points last week, Young termed it “an inconsistent night.” While the passing game improved, the run game was shackled for a half before the line started to construct some holes as Nathan Nutter finished with 85 yards after having just 27 at the half. Young has been pleased with the Bullpups’ run blocking for the most part, but said it must improve its pass blocking. MHS did throw the ball better last week, with Kinnamon passing for 177 yards and two scores, one of them a 75-yard strike to Williams.
After Friday, the Bullpups are home for four of their final five games. “It would be nice to play some games at home,” Young said.