Pavlovich was the right hire

By Steve Sell
January 27, 2015

The right choice was the only choice in my mind.

The McPherson USD 418 school board did the right thing Monday night when it approved Jace Pavlovich as the new McPherson High head football coach to replace the retiring Tom Young.

If there’s any doubts, the appointment was hailed by the man himself.

“I think Jace will do great,”  said Young, who had recommended Pavlovich as his successor. “He has been a large part of our success the past nine years. The players respect him and will work hard for him. Best possible choice for the program.”

I have no doubts that Pavlovich is ready. First of all, he’s had opportunities to leave for other jobs while at McPherson, as top assistants of quality programs usually do. But he chose to stay as he spent his high school days at Canton-Galva and his wife’s family is from McPherson. He’s dedicated to keeping the winning tradition going here.

It’s a natural fit.

I work closely with the MHS football program. In addition to covering the games, I also spend time going to practices and see what goes on behind the scenes.

Young has been grooming Pavlovich, who has soaked up all of his considerable knowledge. He has studied what has made Young one of the top coaches in Kansas history and one of its winningest. It was no accident that when Young and Pavlovich came aboard in 2006, the Bullpups enjoyed success immediately.

Pavlovich calls Young’s coaching style “a process” and his consistency is one reason the Bullpups themselves have been so consistent. The Bullpups never had a losing season in their nine years together and have provided thousands of thrills. McPherson fans have been appreciative as evidenced by every home game with the usual 2,000 filling the stands. Except for a couple of bad-weather games, it’s been a sea of red at McPherson Stadium.

All but one of the other assistants will be back next year, Travis Sears, who stepped down after this season to spend more time with his family. However, he’ll still have a role in helping the program as he’s done a wonderful job of starting Young’s SPS (Speed, Power, Strength) program at the middle school. It has helped the middle school students develop physically so they’ll be ready from that standpoint when they reach high school.

The continuity in the coaching staff should made the transition seamless. Former Bullpup star receiver-defensive back Treg Fawl will be joining the 2015 staff and Pavlovich said there’s one more spot to fill, with a number of quality candidates already expressing interest.

Unlike Young, though, Pavlovich won’t have an experienced team to guide in his first year. The Bullpups were senior-strong this past season, especially on offense. They will be gutted in May when eight of the offensive starters walk across the stage to pick up their diplomas. It will be a new cast of skill players, too, as many familiar names will need to be replaced. There’s a little more experience on the defensive side returning, but overall fans are going to need a program to know the players.

The good news is, the MHS JV and especially the freshman team were highly successful this past fall. The sophomores-to-be have quite a bit of depth, something this program desperately needs. Despite all the success, the numbers have been down the past couple of years as they aren’t quite as consistent all the way through. It would be great if MHS could get its numbers in the 80-90 range. Schools like Buhler and Andale do and they’re not as big as MHS.

Pavlovich is the right man at the right time. How that translates into wins and losses remains to be seen, but I know no staff will work harder in preparing their team. The Bullpups will be put in the best possible situation to succeed.