If everything goes according to plan, McPherson College’s football team will begin a party that has been 58 years in the making at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
By that time, the sixth-ranked and undefeated Bulldogs hopefully will have completed their ninth straight victory to clinch a tie for the KCAC title and an automatic berth for the NAIA playoffs for the second year in a row.
With winless Bethel the invited guest at 1:30 p.m., the Bulldogs are heavily favored to be in a festive mood and it would be their first KCAC football title since 1952, the longest current drought in the conference, excluding Saint Mary since the Spires have not been in the KCAC that long.
It’s also Senior Day, as Mac will be honoring a whopping 21 seniors, the largest group in recent history and a big reason the Bulldogs have won 17 of their last 19 games.
It is hoped a large-and-appreciative crowd will be on hand to share the celebration.
“It will be huge to clinch the conference title, but we will not say anything about it until after the Bethany game (next week),” Mac first-year coach Joe Bettasso said. “We want to be undefeated conference champs and host a playoff game. Any slip-ups could jeopardize that.”
Mac currently has a one-game lead over Ottawa and a win clinches a tie, though the Bulldogs would be declared the automatic champion since it routed the Braves earlier this year.
It’s been a tough year for the Threshers under first-year coach and Moundridge High graduate Travis Graber. The Threshers, 0-7 in the KCAC and 0-8 overall, are painfully young and that inexperience has especially come into play on the defensive side of the ball, as every opponent this year has scored at least 42 points.
That’s bad news for the Threshers since the Bulldogs are second in the nation in passing offense, third in total offense and fourth in scoring offense.
“Bethel is a very young football team. They have shown some good things on both sides of the ball as the season has gone on,” Bettasso said.
Mac quarterback Shane Mascarenas is nearing a couple of passing records. He has 63 TD passes, just two behind Greg Mendez, and his 6,102 yards trail Mendez’s 6,109 by just seven. Andy Skinner is 12 pass receptions behind Matt Holtry’s record of 147, while Aaron Lafitte’s 236 career points is nearing the legendary Eddie Ball’s 260. And Lafitte, with 39 touchdowns, is just three behind Ball’s 42.
Following this week’s game, the Bulldogs wrap up the regular season with a road game at Bethany in the renewal of the McPherson County rivalry.