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McPherson County Football Preview

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By Brad Hallier

 

Ad Astra Radio will preview area high school football teams, based on county, before the season opener Sept. 1. Here is the preview for McPherson County.

Previous previews:

Stafford County

Harvey County

Canton-Galva Eagles

Coach: Shelby Hoppes, sixth season (58-11)

Classification: Eight-man Division 2

District: 2

2022: 11-1

Postseason: Beat St. Paul 60-0; beat Hanover 62-8; beat Lebo 52-6; lost to Axtell 36-32

Best postseason finish: State champions, 2019

Top returning players: Wyatt Collins, sr., OL/DE; Lane McMannis, sr., RB/DB; Isom Marston, sr., OL; Noah Collins, jr., OL; Jaden Ediger, sr., DB

Key game: Sept. 1 at Little River. Both teams appear to be in rebuild mode, but we should get an idea of how far along both are with this tasty opening-day matchup.

Outlook: Few eight-man programs have been better or as consistent these last five seasons than Canton-Galva – at least 10 wins every season, 54 wins total, one state title. The Eagles were great last year too. Their only close game was the semifinal loss to Axtell … which was also Axtell’s only close game. The Eagles graduated an amazing senior class, so there are a lot of unknowns this season. Without much experience back, depth is also a factor. Canton-Galva should expect to win plenty of games still, and maybe even claim another district title. 

Inman Teutons

Coach: Lance Sawyer, eighth season (47-30, 81-79 overall)

Classification: 1A

District: 7

2022: 11-2

Postseason: Beat Ellis 36-7; beat Oakley 47-0; beat Smith Center 28-6; beat Conway Springs 23-6; lost to St. Marys 44-41

Best postseason finish: State runner-up 2021, 2022

Top returning players: Kellen Schrag, sr., RB/LB; Zach Martisko, sr., TE/LB; Talon Welch, sr., RB/LB; Dawson McConnell, sr., RB/LB; Jesse Ballard, sr., DL/OL; Evan Klamcynski, jr., OL/DL; Eli Gillespie, jr., OL/DL; TJ Froese, sr., TE/DL; Caleb Bigler, jr., QB/DB

Key game: Sept. 29 at Trinity Catholic. The top three spots in the district will be up for grabs again among Conway Springs and these two teams. This is a big one

Outlook: For most of its football history, Inman has been something of a black hole. Great in basketball, some great baseball seasons, but the football program saw limited success. Those days are gone, as Sawyer has led Inman to two straight trips to Hays and the 1A state championship game. Although hit hard by graduation, especially on the line, and quarterback Tanner Heckel transferred to Lyndon, Inman has plenty back. Defenisvely, this was one of the best in 1A and could be even better this year, especially the front seven. If Inman can shore up the offensive line and defensive backfield, there’s no reason to think the Teutons can’t play well into November again.

McPherson Bullpups

Coach: Jace Pavlovich, ninth season (72-18)

Classification: 4A

District: West

2022: 10-2

Postseason: Beat Mulvane 34-13; beat Arkansas City 35-0; beat Circle 49-28; lost to Wamego 33-16

Best postseason finish: Semifinals 1987, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022

Top returning players: Teegan Haines, LN; Javyn Alexander, LB; Jayse Schriner, DB; Joe Nutt, OL; Alex Wheat, OL; Cory Muehler, WR; Gunnar Schumacher, WR.

Key game: Oct. 20 vs. Buhler at Riverfront Stadium, Wichita. With 4A West likely to be wide open again, this game could have a lot on the line. Two home playoff games? Three? Four?

Outlook: If you were to say McPherson has been the best team in 4A West for the past decade, you’d probably be right. The Bullpups are remarkably consistent, constantly winning in November. Thus, it’s almost a shock that McPherson has never played in a state championship football game, while schools like Buhler, Andover Central, Wamego and Arkansas City have recently played on Thanksgiving weekend. These Bullpups seem determined to change that, however. Even with just seven starters back, summer weight-room attendance has been the highest it has ever been. The offense has questions on the line but should be able to score some points still. This isn’t the biggest team McPherson has had, especially on defense, so speed and athleticism will have to be allies. With 4A West appearing to be wide open again, is this the year McPherson breaks through?

Moundridge Wildcats

Coach: Tyler O’Connor, first season

Classification: Eight-player Division 1

District: 4

2022: 6-4

Postseason: Beat Central Burden 48-44; lost to Lyndon 50-0

Best postseason finish: State champions, 1973, 1978

Key game: Sept. 29 at Little River. Moundridge has much back from last year, while Little River lost much. If Moundridge is going to take the next step and show it is a team truly on the rise, the Wildcats need to win this one.

Top returning players: Joaquin Huff, sr., RB/LB; Barrett Moddelmog, jr., TE/LB; Lane Durst, jr., FS/WR; Henry Hecox, jr., QB/CB; Braden DenHartog, jr., NG.OL; Kaden Elmore, jr., RB/CB; Layton Weins, jr., OL.

Outlook: Moundridge had a breakthrough season last year, its first winning season since 2008 and first playoff win since 2009. Many players are back, including many juniors and sophomores who now have plenty of experience. Hecox is a legit dual-threat quarterback, accounting for 22 touchdowns and having just one interception, and he’ll have a good, experienced line in front. Novembers in Moundridge are usually spent preparing for and discussing basketball, but this November could feature several football games.

Smoky Valley Vikings

Coach: Tim Lambert, eighth season (44-33, 209-105 overall)

Classification: 3A

District: 7

2022: 4-5

Postseason: Lost to Scott City 41-6

Best postseason finish: State champions, 1988

Key game: Oct. 6 vs. Pratt. This is one of the best districts in Kansas, regardless of classification. With Andale having won four straight state titles, and Cheney looking like one of Andale’s biggest threats this season, the loser of this game will likely have to go far west for the first round of the playoffs.

Top returning players: Ezekiel Baker, C/DE.

Outlook: Smoky Valley has a rugged schedule ahead, a small senior class and not a lot of depth. But a young group gives Lambert hope for a strong season. Not many Vikings have played much varsity, but that could play into their hands.

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