VALLEY CENTER— With less than a week before its season opener, the McPherson High School football team saw some action by running a jamboree with Valley Center High School and Newton High School on Saturday morning.
"They're both programs that are well-coached and well respected, and there is a lot of good things to come, " Bullpups Head coach Jace Pavlovich said about Valley Center and Newton. "We wanted to get involved in a jamboree with class programs like these two
Pavlovich made it clear to his players that he expects them to make a lot of mistakes. When they do, he wanted them not to hesitate and keep going forward with it.
"Our goal is to be the most physical team," Pavlovich said. "Execution was kind of second hand as long as we were physical. I felt like we got that done after the first night."
Pavlovich brought all his team except the freshmen to the jamboree. The junior varsity team played in one half of the field, while varsity played on the other half. Some of the Bullpups that were former JV players that got moved up saw some reps in the jamboree at the varsity level. Being that all three teams played in about 9 a.m., the Bullpups got a little bit of wake-up call early on as the Hornets of Valley Center and the Railers of Newton were not holding anything back.
"We have some seniors and juniors that have been in the mix before on a Friday night. But some of those sophomores and juniors that we are counting on played a lot of JV last year," Pavlovich said. "It woke them up really quickly to the fast pace and tempo. So this was great for us."
It was also the chance for Pavlovich and his coaching staff to evaluate all three quarterbacks who are fighting for the starting job in week one. Kaleb Hoppes, Dylan Rinker and Aiden Hoover each made their case during the scrimmage. Rinker showed a lot more promises as he threw three touchdowns to three different receivers whenever he took snaps. His best play of the day was his deep-ball throw to Gus Ruddle in the post that resulted in a touchdown.
"I feel like all three quarterbacks, as I said before, we liked all three and each deserved to start at many 4A or 5A schools around the state," Pavlovich said. "Unfortunately, we can only have one starter. That's a good problem to have. I felt like all three executed their forte really well. Rinker in the passing game, the other two can run and pass. We got a big decision to make, but we don't hold lightly. We will hold that this weekend and declare on Monday."
The Bullpup defense showed why they are the strongest on the team. The Bullpups returned six of their starters from last year. Cody Stufflebean made his presence known whenever he bullrushes the offensive tackles and get to the quarterback before the referees blew their whistles. Jakob Feil made a huge pass breakup against a Newton receiver during a deep-ball pass on his island. Jayton Alexander made some key tackles against the run, letting his 5-foot-8 150-pound frame be at his advantage. Tyson Gottwald caught an interception in the middle of the field with minutes left in the jamboree. Pavlovich made his final takeaways on the Bullpups' performance and what to expect going into the 2019 season.
"Talent-wise we're as talented as we were last year, but we do have some youth," Pavlovich said. "We are a little immature in some spots, but that maturity has to come through the course of the season on a Friday night. There is not a whole lot you could do to simulate those type of situation in practice. So it's going to be a working progress. There are going to be some things where you'll scratch your head on Friday night, but there will also be some things that happened you're amazed by. I like this group, but we're going to have some growing pains."
McPherson's season opener will be at Salina South High School on Friday Sept.6 at 7 p.m.
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