Four of six McPherson County teams hit the road for week four of Friday Night Lights.
McPherson at Augusta
AUGUSTA — I can hear Willie Nelson singing "On the Road Again" as we get ready for Bullpups football this week. McPherson travels to Augusta for their third away game in four weeks as they face an undefeated Orioles team. As tough as Mac's schedule is to start the season, Augusta's seems to be just the opposite, with wins over Winfield, Clearwater and Circle.
The Pups put together their most complete game of the season last week in beating Winfield 38-14, despite a sloppy, slow start. The only common opponent this season so far has been Winfield who Augusta beat 39-13 in week one. Just like last year I see the Bullpups getting better every week as they prepare to make a deeper run in the playoffs this year. A Mac win could earn them team of the week.
Smoky Valley at Hillsboro
HILLSBORO — Smoky Valley is coming off of a Homecoming win over Haven, 36-6 and still stinging from its last road game loss to Larned. With Hesston on tap next week the biggest challenge for the Vikings will be not looking ahead. Hillsboro opened with a win at Lyons before dropping their next two to Kingman and to Hoisington.
The Vikings recipe for success has been great defense and a ball-control, pounding the rock offense, a formula most football people would tell you is what championships are made of. No reason to go away from that now, especially against the Trojans. Expect nothing to change for Smoky Valley as they use Hillsboro as a warm up for Hesston, who faces Nickerson tonight.
Sterling at Moundridge
MOUNDRIDGE — If you are one to judge a team by its record then you're probably thinking Moundridge is not a very good football team this season. You'd be wrong! The Wildcat's district teams play some of the toughest non-district games in Kansas as they play 3A Heart of America teams in the first four weeks. 2-1A District 5 teams are a combined 2-13 going into their final week of this scheduling gauntlet.
The Wildcats will be without their starting quarterback Mason Dyck, who is expected to miss this game and maybe one more as he nurses a throwing-arm injury. Don't feel sorry for Moundridge though, with 11 seniors and 13 returning starters, this is as deep as the Cats have been for quite a while. I don't pick high school games but if I did I might pick the home team for an upset against the Black Bears.
Ell-Saline at Inman
INMAN — For Inman, the hits just keep on coming but not in a good way. With several players going both ways and the injury-bug visiting the Teutons for the second year in a row, 2017 has been a struggle thus far. Lance Sawyer is entering his second year at Inman but he is not new to coaching, so he understands in Kansas it is all about district play, which is the good news.
The bad news? Before they get to districts next week against Medicine Lodge they must face an undefeated Cardinals team that dispatched of Sedgwick, Whitewater-Remington and Moundridge so far. The Cardinals rarely rebuild, they just reload and they've done so in 2017. This is another game where the Teutons have to hope to stay healthy and get better as they gear up for a run at a wide-open district starting next week.
Canton-Galva at Wakefield
WAKEFIELD — The surprise team of the 2017 thus far has been Canton-Galva, our week two Great Plains Federal Credit Union Team of the Week. With coach Shelby Hoppes taking over the program in late summer, he had his work cut out for him installing his system both on and off the field. What an amazing job he and his coaching staff have done to date.
After dropping their opening game to Solomon 66-34 the Eagles have rebounded with two convincing victories over Rural Vista and Peabody-Burns. Wakefield comes in at 2-1, having trounced Goessel and Peabody-Burns in each of the first two weeks before getting blasted by Little River last week 56-12. Expect this game to go all four quarters as both teams tune up for district play that starts next week. Again I don't pick high school games but expect the 3-1 team to soar back home after this one.
Little River at Solomon
SOLOMON — If you want to see where your team stands going into district play this is certainly a game that will do that. The Gorillas, coached by the dad of McPherson College back up quarterback Jake Tiernan, enter the game undefeated in three games with wins over Canton-Galva, Herington and Goessel. This is not necessarily the easiest opening three games in Kansas but it's got to be close, especially catching the Eagles on opening night before they got in a groove.
For Little River they need two things to be successful: 1) Consistency; 2) Redskins players need to realize just how good they are and can be. They opened the season with a 50-42 win at Centre before losing to a Bennington team that took advantage of Little River miscues to win by a 22-point margin that was not reflective of how close the game was. The Redskins recovered and were named our Great Plains Federal Credit Union Team of the Week last week with a 56-12 dismantling of the Wakefield Bombers. If Little River can keep it close into the fourth quarter they can upset Solomon to improve to 3-1.
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.