By William for CrossDove Writers

(SPONSORED BY CrossDove Marketing)

After coming up one step short of the state championship game in 2018, the McPherson High football team is aiming to take the final step in 2019 on the experience of 53 returning lettermen and 10 returning starters, six on defense and four on offense.

Adding to that mix is the experience and consistency of the coaching staff, led by the Bullpups Head Coach, Jace Pavlovich, who enters his tenth season working with the Bullpups and his fifth as the man in charge. Coach Pavlovich has won 34 out of 44 games in four seasons, including 21 of 24 in the past two years.

How did 53 players earn letters, Coach Pavlovich explained by noting, “We had 10 games where they used the running clock last season, so everyone had an opportunity to play.”

Among the Bullpups that will be major contributors in 2019 are Cody Stufflebean who has already cemented an opportunity to play at Kansas State in 2020, Mason Thrash and Jacob Feil.

While Stufflebean is best known at this point for his play on the defensive line, the AVCTL named him pre-season offensive player of the year for his work as a tight end. While Feil’s play at defensive back made him the league’s pre-season defensive player of the year, he will be counted on for some big time work at running back as well. Linebacker Thrash is the other keynote player for 2019 as he led the team in tackles in 2018 and had glowing reviews at several summer camps.

Besides Stufflebean at tight end, the other three returning offensive starters will be Jonah Clarke at fullback along with linemen Courtney Craig and Jonah Scott.  Beyond Thrash, Feil and Stufflebean on the defensive side, defensive backs Tyson Gottwald and Kaleb Hoppes along with linebacker Bryson Labertew return to put the clamps on opponent offenses.

While the Bullpups will be replacing many key offensive players, Coach Pavlovich marked the point by saying, “We lost the most successful class of seniors in our program’s history. They will have a lasting impact on our program because our young guys learned from them how to do everything right. We have a ton of talented kids coming up in the program but are unproven in a starting capacity. The last two years, these guys have been able to practice eight extra weeks which should benefit us.”

Coach Pavlovich continued talking about the keys to success for the 2019 Bullpups by adding, “On offense, we need to develop a quarterback and our receivers. Our offensive line should be very strong this season and we will rely on them to move the football. Defensively, we have some large shoes to fill, but we have some guys that are seniors this season and have been playing behind some really good players the last couple of years.”

“Our number one goal is to simply reach our potential and worry about what we can control,” concluded Coach Pavlovich during his pre-season reflections. “For example, we can’t control the strength of our schedule this year, or the weather, etc. Our goal is simple, we want to play good football. What I am most proud is the fact that our program has gone from five to eleven wins over the last four years. We hope to continue that trend upwards this coming season.”

The Bullpups open the 2019 season on Friday, September 6 on the road in Salina against Salina South, before getting their home opener on Friday, September 13 against Winfield.


Friday, Sept. 6 – on the road at Salina South, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 13 – host Winfield, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 20 – host El Dorado, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 27 – on the road at Abilene, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 4 – host Buhler, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 11 – on the road at Augusta, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 18 – host Rose Hill, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25 – on the road at Circle, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 1 – Class 4A Bracket Game, TBA

Friday, Nov. 8 – Class 4A Regional Game, TBA

Friday, Nov. 15 – Class 4A Sectional Playoffs, TBA

Friday, Nov. 22 – Class 4A Sub-State Playoffs, TBA

Saturday, Nov. 30 – Class 4A State Championship, TBA