It won't be along until the McPherson College football team opens its first season under Jeremiah Fiscus at Cessna Stadium. The Bulldogs will take on Langston University during the Heartland Classic on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Bulldogs will be up to the task with Langston being ranked No. 14 in the NAIA polls. The Lions went finished 9-2 last season. One of their losses came in the first round of the NAIA Championship Series against Kansas Wesleyan University. An upset over the Lions could be a big step in the right direction for Fiscus and his football program.
"Anytime you mixed with a playoff team, they're going to be strong and fast," Fiscus said. "They won their league last year. It's a program that's established. Coach (Quinton) Morgan has been there for several years as a head coach. He's an alum just like I am, and he takes a lot of pride in what he is doing and does a good job at it."
With the Bulldogs being put to the test early on, Fiscus is looking forward to finally see what his team is made of as he wants to build a winning culture to McPherson College.
"Just seeing the kids competing and somebody that is not red and white," Fiscus said. "Just getting to see the human spirit come out in them and really watch a guy dig down deep and compete."
Captain, my captain
Fiscus announced his four captains for the Bulldogs for this coming season, and it includes two McPherson's finest. Both Kollin Goering and Ben Nikkel will be the face of the Bulldogs along with Joey Hale and Tanner Williams.
"When you talk about and educate somebody of being a captain, it's not a popularity contest. This isn't the prom. It means something, talking about how lonely leadership could be, and how hard nose you could be. You always have the other guys on your mind every decision you make."
Goering and Nikkel started right away during their freshman year, starting all 10 games and received All-KCAC honors. Goering was one of the Bulldogs' tackling leader as he finished with 66 total tackles.
"It's an honor. I really love our community and trying to be the face of this community, and I really like just trying to be the face of the program, and lead it to the right direction," Goering said. "Last year, I came in and expected to compete for a job, but I did not expect to be able to start because it's an entirely different level and a lot of competition.
At first, I was excited, and then I started to get nervous. A freshman coming in at the college level is a little nerve-wracking, but once I started going in, it got a little easier."
Nikkel showed a lot of flashes as a deep threat receiver on offense. The former Bullpup was a standout back in high school at both receiver and defensive back. When Nikkel came to McPherson College, it was an adjustment for the sophomore as a full-time receiver, but once he was on the field, he was a natural. The 6-foot-1 185-pounder only had 21 catches, but 447 yards and four touchdowns to complete his freshman season.
"In high school, obviously, I played defensive back, and so coming in, playing a new position. I didn't know what to expect," Nikkel said. "But I want to go out there and compete, so it was exciting to get some playing time as a freshman."
It is safe the say the McPherson duo had the respect from their teammates after voting them captain as sophomores. Not focus entirely on their individual goals, Goering and Nikkel have high hopes of making the Bulldogs relevant again after going 3-7 in two straight years.
The band is back together
There's no denying that Fiscus has a love for McPherson High School, and it shows as he has five McPherson natives on the 2019 roster (Goering, Nikkel, Kyler Hoppes, Honestee Whittker and Drew Labertew). Labertew is the latest pick up on the roster after transferring from Fort Hays State.
"It was the toughest decision to come back," Labertew said. "Ultimately, I had a relationship with Fiscus during the recruiting process, and when he took the job here, I just contacted him and kind of see what was his thought process was. He kind of talked me into it, and of course, having the McPherson guys here, I was able to see how they liked it. They convinced me also to come here and turned this program around."
The former Bullpups reunited brought back memories. Not too far as it was only two seasons ago when all five were on the same team.
"Me and Kollin coming in last year, just us two and this year having three more McPherson guys definitely like our high school days but at a different level," Nikkel said. " It's just nice to see the McPherson guys back in the community and supporting the college."
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_oroursports