As the McPherson High School football team are one step closer to the state finals, another team from the AVCTL Division-II league is standing in the way of that. The Bullpups will take on Arkansas City High School (4-6) on Friday at home at 7 p.m.
Similar to Goddard High School, Arkansas City has four wins, but are better than what its record portrays. The Bulldogs will be entering the quarterfinals with a lot of momentum. Midway through October, Ark City won four of the last five games after an 0-5 start. One of the toughest tasks for the Bullpups is upfront. McPherson's coach Jace Pavlovich emphasized how physical their offensive and defensive linemen are. Leading the pack is a 6-foot-1 268-pound sophomore, Taviahn Mack, who could be a disruptor in the backfield against McPherson's offense.
"They are a well-coached team," Pavlovich said. "So the mistakes that they made early, they haven't been making anymore. "They play incredibly hard and are very skilled. They got some big and physical offensive and defensive linemen that like to push people around. So we have a tough task on our hands ahead of us.
We have changed and tweak some of our blocking schemes, but our kids have responded well."
One of the Bulldogs' losses happens to be Andover Central High School, a team that is also in the quarterfinals in Class 4A. The Bulldogs lost to the Jaguars 21-13. From what Pavlovich saw on film, Ark City had the game won.
"They made a few mistakes that cost them that game," Pavlovich said. "It's going to be one of those games where if we can get up on them early, keep things rolling, we got a good shot to go on top."
The Bullpups are coming off a 14-8 win over Goddard High School last week in the round of 16. As intense the game was, there might been some concerns about some of the players who are banged up. One including quarterback Kaleb Hoppes, who despite been bothered with a leg injury last week, still rushed for 114 yards and threw 126 yards. Fortunately, he among the rest of the Bullpups will be good to go on Friday.
"We actually didn't have to limit reps on anybody yet this week, and we won't have to tomorrow," Pavlovich said. "We are beat up a little bit, but it's one of those things wherein playoff football, those things are going to happen. You're going to have to fight like crazy even though you're dinged up a little bit."
Pick your Poison
While McPherson is focusing on Arkansas City, the winner will take on the winner of the Buhler-Andover Central game in the semifinals. The Bullpups already beat the Crusaders (8-2) earlier in the season, 21-14. Andover Central (9-1), however, is a different story. Pavlovich considered the Jaguars, the best team in the AVCTL league outside of McPherson. However, either one will be a challenge in next week's semifinals.
"Buhler is so strong and Andover Central, they got a ton of seniors on that team," Pavlovich said. "They have skilled guys we haven't seen for a long time. So pick your poison, we're just going to be happy to be there."
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_