McPherson High’s football team continued its preparation for the upcoming season last weekend by competing in a 7-on-7 tournament hosted by Blue Valley.
According to new MHS head coach Jace Pavlovich, the Bullpups more than held their own against bigger-class schools.
Their wins were against Class 6A Leavenworth and Ray Pec of Missouri, which is in Missouri’s largest class. It was the only loss for Ray Pec in pool play.
McPherson also went up against St. James Academy (losing by two) and had the chance to play the eventual champion Blue Valley, losing by 12. With a loss to Blue Valley Southwest and a tie with Shawnee Mission South, the Bullpups finished with a 2-3-1 record.
“We were very competitive in every single game,” said Pavlovich, who is taking over this season for Tom Young after serving as the Bullpups’ defensive coordinator. “Our young guys are starting to come along. The work they have put in this summer has been crucial to their development.”
Pavlovich said it was good experience for his youthful quarterbacks Casen Hoover and Drew Labertew. With no established senior quarterback in the program, the junior Hoover and sophomore Labertew will be thrown into the fire this season. Hoover is healthy again after missing most of last season with a broken leg, while Labertew quarterbacked both the JV and freshman teams.
“Both quarterbacks threw the ball well and have improved a ton on their key read progressions,” Pavlovich said.
Pavlovich admitted the receiving group also is young, but welcomes back Spenser Wine, who missed the final eight games after separating his shoulder in Week 2 against Andale. Pavlovich refers to Wine as “our go-to guy” as he has good size and strength.
Other receivers who have caught Pavlovich’s eye this summer are Jeff Reed, Thomas Diggs and Jack Reifschneider, who played only defense last year but is such a good athlete he needs to be on the field as much as possible.
Pavlovich announced a recent change to his coaching staff. Longtime assistant Chris Allen recently became assistant principal at McPherson Middle School and his place as a line coach as been taken by Scott Davis. Davis is no stranger to Bullpup football as he served on Young’s staff.
“I’m really excited to get Scott back in our program,” Pavlovich said.
The Bullpups, coming off an AVCTL Division III championship, 7-3 season and ninth straight appearance in the playoffs, have less than a month before they open practice Aug. 17. The season opener is Sept. 4 when the Bullpups host longtime Class 5A power Salina South.