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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Kinnamon leads 2014 Bullpups onto gridiron

  • McPherson High football coach Tom Young has a few questions facing his team as the 2014 season begins.
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  • McPherson High football coach Tom Young has a few questions facing his team as the 2014 season begins.
    The quarterback position is not one of them.
    Young brings back one of the most explosive signal callers in the state in 6-foot-1 senior Kyler Kinnamon, who stymied opposing defenses constantly in 2013.
    Kinnamon put up 2,816 total yards of offense last season for the Pups, who went 6-5 and went 2-1 in district play and advanced to the second round the Class 4A State Football Playoffs, where McPherson fell 36-7 to Andale to end their season.
    Realistically, MHS wouldn’t have won six games without Kinnamon in the backfield, as they suffered from injury issues at tailback that often left him as the only viable option. He put up a team-high 1,662 yards, a total that broke Dwayne Chandler’s single-season rushing record. He also connected on 47.5 percent of his passes for 1,154 yards.
    All total, Kinnamon scored 29 touchdowns. For his career, Kinnamon has 5,832 yards of total offense.
    “He’s a terrific talent,” Young, who is entering his 44th year as a head coach and ninth with the Bullpups, said. “He’s really explosive with quick feet and just really executes the offense well. Most of the plays we ran last year were option-style plays, where he’s reading the plays and handing off. That’s not the easiest thing. He really handles the ball well and makes great decisions.”
    Kinnamon will have a lot of experience at his back when MHS takes the field for their season-opener Sept. 4 at Salina South. Young projects six starters from last season will be on the roster opening day, including Kinnamon.
    The line is where most of the losses will be felt, as Young will have to replace all but two. Corbin Davis is a 6-2, 230 pound guard, while Michael McKinney is a 6-foot, 255 tackle. Both have slimmed down from where they what they were listed as on the 2013 roster, which will help their mobility.
    The only returning starter at tight end is junior Luke Stucky, a 6-2, 210 pounder that had three grabs for 37 yards in 2013.
    Filling the other three line spots will be a priority, though Young only has one returning center listed in his preseason informational packet that lettered in 2013 in junior Derek Hall.
    The receiving corps will boast seniors Jason Anderson and Luke Williams both returning with stints as starters from last year. Anderson had the most receptions and yards of the three, as he had 16 grabs for 156 yards.
    Junior Spenser Wine will most likely be a defensive starter, but Young foresees using him as a receiver throughout the season, as well. Also a possiblity at receiver is junior Casey Cheek, who started as a safety in 2013, but had issues catching the ball on offense. That changed in the Bullpups’ spring practices.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Our spring practices, he was totally different,” Young said. “He had a really good spring practice, a good trip down to Pitt State [for summer camp]. He’s show vast improvement, so he’ll probably play some on the offensive side, too.”
    The biggest concern on offense will be who will slide into the tailback position. Senior Ty Hart should have been a lock, but he spent most of 2013 injured and this past summer in military boot camp. That has left him in what Young called excellent shape for cross country, but not football.
    “He seems really eager to get back to football,” Young said of Hart. “He seems motivated. Maybe he might help us out at tailback as the season progresses.”
    The leading candidate to start behind Kinnamon in the backfield appears to be senior Nathan Nutter. Young tested out the 6-1, 198 pound Nutter at their camp this past summer and was pleased with what he saw.
    “He looked terrific,” Young said. “We’re really happy with the way he played. Really physical runner and he is just really fast for a 198-pounder.”
    Defensively, Young is expecting vast improvements from his returning eight starters. Particularly up front, where he feels his line is the fastest he’s ever had.
    The Pups return defensive ends Cole Hanken and Cody Starkel, with tackle Levi Vu turning some heads at camp.
    “I think he weighed 168 last year and he weigh something like 198 this year,” Young said. “He’s got good speed. He’s just a really quick lineman.”
    The linebacker corps will boast Nutter and Hart, as well as fellow senior Collin Baldwin. Hart led the team in tackles in 2013, with Nutter third and Hanken fourth. Hanken also led the team in sacks.
    Really, the biggest concern for the Bullpups on defense will be depth, as Young feels he could have as many as seven kids playing both sides of the ball. That includes Kinnamon, who also doubles as a cornerback. Anderson (WR/CB), Stucky (TE/T), Nutter (TB/LB), Baldwin (FB/LB), Cheek (WR/S) and Wine (WR/C) could also all play two-way ball.
    “I don’t like playing a lot of kids two-ways a lot,” Young said. “[Nutter], if he ends up being that tailback, maybe Ty Hart will end up getting in better football shape and, if he ends up playing linebacker, we could be really, really strong up front.”
    The Bullpups will have a tough schedule to open and close the year, as they begin with Salina South, who made it to the Class 5A title game before dropping a last-second, 27-26 decision to Blue Valley.
    Page 3 of 3 - That’s followed by what is projected to be the top team in the new Class 4A Division II in Andale for McPherson’s home opener on Sept. 12. A trip to AVCTL Division III newcomer Augusta will open the league portion of the schedule on Sept. 19.
    The Pups will be on the road at Rose Hill on Sept. 26, but will host El Dorado and Winfield on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10, respectively.
    The district battle starting Oct. 17 will draw, perhaps, the most attention in the state, as McPherson’s District 8 includes Abilene, Buhler and Hays. Abilene will have a new coach, as Jay Geist left the Cowboys after 17 years this past spring. Former Sublette coach Steve Simpson took over Abilene, who finished 2013 6-5.
    Buhler, of course, is the last Class 4A state champion before the classification was split after the 2013 season. The Crusaders went 13-1 last season, but will be without Riley Anderson, who had more than 4,000 rushing his junior and senior years. Junior Jace Williams will be back under center, however, and is drawing some looks from recruiters.
    Hays will also bring a new face to the sidelines when they visit on Halloween, as former coach Ryan Cornelson bolted for Hutchinson High School in the offseason. Former Great Bend coach Bo Black takes over for the Indians, who went 6-3 in 2013, which included a 37-23 win over McPherson in week two.
    The Indians will have quarterback Alex Delton, who has committed to Kansas State University, under center for his senior year.
    Despite the tough schedule, Young feels his team is prepared to handle it and exceed the 6-5 record of a year ago.
    “Realistically, we were really inexperienced last year,” Young said. “It showed at times. I thought we gained a lot of experience and, hopefully, that’s going to pay off this year.”
    Contact Chris Swick by email at cswick@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.

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