"At this point, we don’t care about making history, we don’t care about going to a state championship, we just want another week of practice to be together.”

The McPherson High School football team hasn’t been this close to a state championship since 2008.

Nearly 10 years ago in the Class 5A playoffs, the Bullpups advanced to their first ever semifinal appearance in school history, but lost to eventual state champions Hutchinson. Friday night against Andale, the Bullpups will get another shot at their first state championship berth.

But it won’t be easy. Andale (11-0) has not lost since Drew Labertew’s game-winning field goal knocked the Indians out of the playoffs last season. Led by head coach Gary O’Hair, who led Andale to an undefeated state championship season just three years ago, the Indians want nothing more than revenge.

“Andale is Andale,” head coach Jace Pavlovich said. “They are going to continue to challenge you between the tackles. They have the speed to get to the edge as well. Between Buhler, Maize South, and Andale, those are the most physical teams we have seen for quite a few years.”

For the third straight game, McPherson will go into the game as a slight underdog. It’s a mentality that has served the Bullpups well this postseason.

“Last year’s game has given us confidence that we can beat these guys,” Pavlovich said. “However, it has also given them a year to think about the loss. They will be motivated more than ever to get us back. We have been the underdog in the last two playoff games, and that is just the way we like it.”

A win Friday night is the goal, but the real prize would be an extra week of practice for the players and coaches alike.

“One more week with this group of young men would mean the world for our coaching staff,” Pavlovich said. “It has been a pleasure to work with this staff seven days a week for the last three months. All good things must come to an end; we just want that end to be next Saturday. These guys have been raised the right way by their parents and it has shown on and off the football field. We thank our lucky stars to be able to work with them every single day. At this point, we don’t care about making history, we don’t care about going to a state championship, we just want another week of practice to be together.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at McPherson Stadium. Temperatures should be pleasant in the 50s to 60s.

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