By William for www.mcpherson-county-ks.com

McPHERSON – The McPherson Middle School eighth-grade football team closed out their 2019 season on Thursday with a home battle against Hutchinson and outdueled the Junior Salthawks for a 24-6 victory.


Javyn Alexander led the scoring for the Junior Pups as he scored twice on the day, once on a 10-yard pass play from Kreighton Kanitz and the second when he broke loose for a 70-yard scamper to the end zone. Eli Clarke added a one-yard dive for a score while Kanitz had two two-point conversions and Jace Schriner had another.

“The stats don’t tell the whole story,” noted eighth-grade Junior Pup Head Coach TJ Jackson. “The biggest factor of the game may have been the mental part as coming into the game we knew the Hutchinson kids had been posting on social media about what they were going to do to us, and how bad they were going to beat McPherson. We talked to our kids because we knew Hutchinson was specifically calling out some of our kids, and we knew Hutchinson would push the limit with them. They even had parents calling out our players from the sidelines. I was proud of our guys and our parents for not falling into that junk. Our guys started out winning this game by not falling into that trap. Our guys have a lot of fire in them and I was proud to see they were able to play smart.”

Coach Jackson continued by talking about how the coaches saw the season end, saying, “Our coaches couldn’t be any happier for these guys. All we have heard is how good this Hutchinson team was and in the past, we just haven’t been able to hang with them. Today, these kids changed everyone’s minds and showed every bit of their growth. This was the best team effort football game we have had. The last few games we had pieces we put together but had to rely on one side or the other or just big plays on offense and not making some drives. This game we saw all of the pieces come together.”
While discussing the plays that made a difference, Coach Jackson had plenty to share, “Our second drive we had three guys run the ball and chewed up a lot of clock like we wanted to, then capped it off with Eli (Clarke) getting the one-yard score behind great blocking by the line and receivers. Our receivers have been the best blocking receivers as a group we have coached in quite a few years. On the last drive of the half, the kids executed something we looked at formation wise and thought it would give us an advantage and it came out perfectly. It was another example of everyone doing their job. Then on the first play of the second half, we ran a sweep play on the motion to our receiver and it couldn’t have been blocked any better as our runner (Javyn Alexander) set up his blockers perfectly and then proved he was the fastest guy on the field.”

Kreighton Kanitz only attempted three passes in the game and completed just one, but it was the 10-yard scoring pass to Alexander. Alexander also led the team in rushing by gaining 72 yards on just two runs while Jace Schriner and Drew Warner each had 23 yards rushing.

“Our defense ruled the game,” continued Coach Jackson. “The defense gave up just two big plays the entire game, one for a score, but against a bruising smash mouth team like Hutchinson, the kids proved they were just as much able to play with that kind of identity as well. Defensively we asked our guys to change up some things this week. With the way that Hutchinson plays, we knew we had to bring more into the box, but it couldn’t be head on head and we had to do it a bit differently because Hutchinson is well coached. Our kids executed and played like great athletes. We really put our secondary in a tough position to make sure we could stop the run, but those guys made several plays on balls, and an interception near the end of the game proved we were beating them in every part of the game.”

Coach Jackson concluded his post-game reflections by talking special teams, adding, “Special teams came up huge as well. Our kicker pinned them deep multiple times, and our punter was in a very tough position when kicking into the wind and did well, but when he had the wind at his back he took full advantage as he had a 70-yard punt that put Hutchinson down near their eight-yard line. Without defense eliminating big plays almost completely, Hutchinson wasn’t going to score very fast with that big of a field to cover.”



JUNIOR PUPS 24 Hutchinson 6

JUNIOR PUPS – Eli Clarke scored on a 1-yard run (Kreighton Kanitz converted the 2-point conversion)

JUNIOR PUPS – Javyn Alexander scored on a 10-yard pass reception from Kreighton Kanitz (Kanitz converted the 2-point conversion)

JUNIOR PUPS – Javyn Alexander scored on a 70-yard run (Jace Schriner converted the 2-point conversion)


Passing (Comp-Atts-Yds-Tds): Kreighton Kanitz 1-3-10-1.

Rushing (Atts-Yds-Tds): Javyn Alexander 2-72-1; Jace Schriner 9-23-0; Drew Waner 5-23-0; Kreighton Kanitz 4-19-0; Eli Clarke 1-1-1.

Receiving (Rec-Yds-Tds): Javyn Alexander 1-10-1.

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