CIK PREVIEW: McPherson looks to get over the hump in 2020

Just missed state title game in 2019
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 1:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - For the last three seasons, McPherson has fallen just short of reaching the 4A state title game. Last year, they were just one play away from making their first ever state appearance, but a 7-0 loss to Andover Central ended the Bullpups season at 11-1.

But this season, they have their sights set on making it to the promise land for the first time in program history.

“We lost one game last year, we failed to win that one and we learned a lot from it,” said Head Coach Jace Pavlovich. “Each year in the state semis it’s been something a little different. When you’re facing good teams, they’re going to expose your weaknesses and the fact of the matter is the common denominator is our failure to be able to score in the red zone and when we get the ball in the red zone we have to be able to punch it in.”

The Bullpups return a deep front five, led by senior Jonah Scott, one of the best linemen in all of class 4A.

“We have a tremendous offensive line, probably one of the biggest since I’ve been here and that’s 15 years,” said Pavlovich. “We feel good about where we’re at up front and that’s going to carry us and be the reason we get over that hump.”

Dylan Rinker will take over as the full-time starter at quarterback, and the Bullpups return key offensive weapons in wide receivers Aaron Powell and Trey Buckbee, who combined for more than 75 catches and more than 1,100 receiving yards.

“We return almost everyone from the receiving core last season so we look forward to being able to throw the ball effectively too,” said Pavlovich.

McPherson lost key players on defense to graduation in defensive end Cody Stufflebean, a Kansas State commit, and linebacker Mason Thrash.

“It just comes down to us being able to stop the run.” Said Pavlovich. “We lost some guys to graduation last year but we filled the void with some talented players.”

Among those talented defensive players Pavlovich expects to have a big 2020 season, are senior linebacker Brycen Labertew and defensive back Jayton Alexander.

Labertew was second in both tackles and interceptions last season behind Mason Thrash, and will take over as the man in the middle.

“We feel like we got a good squad top to bottom,” said Pavlovich.

McPherson kicks off their season at home on September 4th against Salina South.

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