Footballs will be filling the air on Thursday when the McPherson College Bulldogs kick off the 2018 season with their first practice.
Head coach Paul Mierkiewicz begins his fourth year at Mac. When he inherited the program, the Bulldogs barely had two dozen players remaining, but he now has a squad of more than 50 returning letterwinners, including a 19-member senior class, and is expecting 80 to 90 to show up on Thursday.
The Bulldogs were 3-7 last year, losing some close games to cost them a potential winning season. Even though they were picked eighth in the recent KCAC Media Poll, they did receive one first-place vote. They were picked ninth in the coaches’ poll.
The Bulldogs have several key returnees on offense, including the quarterback tandem of Ed Crouch and Jake Tiernan, who throw to returning All-KCAC receiver Jackson Goodmiller and reliable tight end Brandt Wolters. Logan Anderson, a senior, has started every game at Mac in the offensive line since stepping on to campus.
After having a pat coaching staff for the past couple of years, Mierkiewicz returns only Jimmy Wilson and Ronnie Reid. The newcomers add fresh ideas, new voices and enthusiasm.
New coaches are Ruzell McCoy (defensive coordinator-linebackers), James Grinde (offensive line-strength coach), Vic Redd (secondary) and Chris Ellison (defensive line). Ellison was a one-time Bulldog defensive end who earned conference honors.
Also there are two new graduate assistants, former McPherson High and Bulldog standout Jaelon Barnes and Tommy Feazell. Gregory Gerstenberger will work with kickers.
Mac opens its season Sept. 1 hosting county rival Bethany College at McPherson Stadium.