It was a rough way to finish the 2018 season for the McPherson Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade football teams as they lost all three games with Hutchinson on Thursday.

8th Grade football drop close final game

At the beginning of the 2018 season, the McPherson Middle School eighth-grade football team was like any other team, they wanted to go unbeaten and win the Pioneer League title.

Well the 2018 season ended on Thursday as they hosted Hutchinson, and while playing it close, came from behind at one point only to fall back again, the Pups took their first loss of the season in losing to Hutchinson 26-20. The loss ends their season with a mark of 6-1.

Despite the loss though, the second half of the season goal was still reached as the eighth-graders won the Pioneer League title.

Hutchinson kept the Pups from getting much accomplished in the first half and took a 20-6 advantage into the halftime break with the lone score for the Pups coming when Jaytin Gumm busted into the end zone from two yards out.

McPherson bounced back in the second half and put up scores on a 39-yard run by Tucker Pelner and a 65-yard scoring pass from Hunter Alvord to Mason Miller, with Alvord getting the two-point conversion. The two scores pulled the Pups into a 20-20 tie before Hutchinson scored one more time to get the 26-20 win.

“This team had two goals in mind at the beginning of the year, and as a team both were the same as most teams – go undefeated and win the league,” noted 8th Grade Head Coach TJ Jackson. “After a very hard, fought game we came up just short of the one goal, but still walked away as the league champs.”

Regarding the difference in the two half of the game, Coach Jackson added, “The first half was rough and we didn’t get a whole lot accomplished on either side of the ball. We went into the half and talked to the guys about a couple of changes on both sides of the ball, but most importantly we talked about the way they were playing. For the first time all year they just seemed down, and we know these guys aren’t that way. We made our adjustments and came out ready to fight back, they cam out on a mission to get this game within reach.”

“Our offensive line came out driving guys in the second half and our backs were making great reads and running hard,” continued Coach Jackson. “Defensively, we changed up our front, put guys in positions where they really had to think differently, and they responded like they always have as a smart team. The game came down to the wire and often it seems as though one play makes the difference from the outside – but I could have made a couple of better calls to help us more and we put ourselves in a tough position.”

On offense, Tucker Pelner led the rushing attack with 86 yards on just five carries, while Alvord ran for 42 and Gumm finished with 30 on the ground. Miller caught four passes covering 102 yards while Sam Becker took three catches for another 36 yards.

Defensively, Gumm and Tucker Pelner each led the Pups with seven tackles, while Dawson Gottwald and Becker each had credit for six.

“All season these guys have done their best at all times to try and do what we ask of them,” concluded Coach Jackson during his coach’s reflections. “We are very excited for the high school and what they have coming up for them. This team, along with the ones they will join, are going to do great things. Congrats to them on a terrific season, it has been our pleasure to coach these kids and we really appreciate the support from their families.”

7th graders get shutout in season finale

HUTCHINSON—It was a very rough way to close out the season for the McPherson Middle School seventh-grade football teams as both the ‘A’ team and ‘B’ team were shutout at Hutchinson on Thursday.

In the ‘A’ game, Hutchinson scored a 22-0 victory, leaving the seventh graders with a final season mark of 4-3.

“It’s always tough to close out the season with a loss,” noted seventh-grade Head Coach Brandt Busse during his post-game coach reflections. “This is definitely not the way our guys wanted to finish, but we are very proud of the effort they gave to the end. We started out very strong in holding Hutchinson to no points in the first half. During the second half, our defense just started to wear down as Hutchinson just kept pounding the ball on the ground. Offensively, we would sustain some good drives, including passing for over 100 yards through the air, but unfortunately could not punch the ball into the endzone.”

While looking back on the season, Coach Busse concluded his comments by saying, “This team has been an absolute pleasure to coach. They had a rocky start to the season, but never let it get them down as they went on to win four in a row after an 0-2 start to the season and finished the season with a winning record. This team is an outstanding group of football players and young men. I hope to see them continue to stay out for football and continue to get better as they have a lot of talent and I have no doubt they will have a bright future. We as a coaching staff were extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to coach them this year.”

In the seventh-grade ‘B’ game the story was much the same as they kept Hutchinson off the scoreboard through the first half, only to wear down and end up losing 24-0.

“Our second game was not unlike the first as we kept Hutchinson off the board in the first half,” said Coach Busse. “Our guys played extremely tough defense, but in the second half they wore down. Offensively we were once again great through the air, passing for over 100 yards but had some unfortunate plays that led to drive killers.”

“Our ‘B’ team had a good season this year,” concluded Coach Busse. “They only had a chance to play a few full games this year and we are very proud of how they competed. It can be a long year coming to practice every day and not getting a lot of playing time. I am very proud of these kids for sticking with it and continuing to get better every week. I encourage them to continue to come out and to work hard again next year.”

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