With all the talent the McPherson High School boy’s soccer team lost from last year — the program’s all-time leading scorer in Andric McGill, a more than capable No. 2 scorer in Patrick Munsey, and a stingy defense led by Hadley Hageman — some fans wondered if the Bullpups were going to take a step back this year. Fast forward a year later and McPherson is a win away from the state championship game.

Friday night in Olathe, the Bullpups will take on top-ranked and defending state champions Bishop Miege in the Class 4-1A State Semifinals. The Stags (16-1-1) are every bit as good as their record indicates.

Even with all the hype surrounding Bishop Miege, McPherson High has come too far to be intimidated now.

“Miege returns a lot of players from last year’s championship team, but these Bullpups aren’t going to back down from anyone,” McPherson head coach Chris Adrian said. “Our confidence and belief is high and we know we are going to have to play our best and most complete game of the season Friday if we want to be successful.”

It’s no secret Miege has as much talent as anyone in the state. But what has led McPherson to where they are now is its ability to play as a team.

“We are also going to have to play intelligently as Miege has numerous playmakers on their team that can hurt you,” Adrian said. “What gives me a lot of confidence is this team’s mentality of playing for each other and doing whatever the team needs. When you get 11 players on the field playing that way, anything can happen.”

Unlike a lot of teams, the Bullpups stack up well against the Stags with their ability to move the ball around the field.

“It’s going to be an interesting matchup because you have two teams that pride themselves on passing and possessing the ball,” Adrian said. “Whichever team wins that battle is going to have an advantage. We are going to have to make sure we do a good job on all set plays and take advantage of our opportunities when we get them.”

The Bullpups are loaded with youthful talent in the form of seven sophomore starters. However, it’s the two senior starters in Devin Cape and Darrius Armstrong that are the anchors of this squad.

“Devin and Darrius have been excellent senior captains for the team this year and have provided great leadership for a young squad,” Adrian said. “Just like when we played Louisburg, we will be looking for those guys to set the tempo and work their tails off. It’s great for these sophomores to gain this experience, but it’s important that they come out with the attitude that this is also their time and not play passive. Future state appearances are not a guarantee, so it’s vital every player comes out with the attitude that they are going to do whatever they can to help the team.”

Kickoff between McPherson and Bishop Miege begins at 5 p.m. Friday at the College Boulevard Activity Center in Olathe.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel