The second week of district play matches the two 1-0 teams, Abilene hosting McPherson while the 0-1 teams, Chapman and Smoky Valley will meet in Lindsborg Friday.
Last week McPherson took care of Smoky Valley 42-13 while Abilene scored twice in the fourth quarter to defeat Chapman 28-14.
McPherson comes to Paul Dennis Field with a 4-3 record, the same as the Cowboys.
“Smoky Valley basically gave up three scores on special team, that really killed them. Two blocked punts and a muffed punt, two of them directly turned into touchdowns for McPherson. The third took the Bullpups one play to score,” Abilene coach Jeff Geist said. “That is one thing you don’t want to do against a great team is give up points off of special teams.”
McPherson is 1-3 in road games this year. The Bullpups lost at Hays, Buhler and Winfield with their lone road victory coming the first game of the season at El Dorado.
“They are an interesting group, they played El Dorado really tough and then they beat up on somebody, so they seem to be up and down at times.” Geist said. “So hopefully they are down this week.
“Their quarterback Kyler Kinaman is their best athlete. He is fast. I think he runs a little better than he throws. I think he uses his feet a bunch.”
McPherson has shown to have a very good ground attack with Kinaman and senior running back TJ Stites. The two of them combined for more than 360 yards last week against Smoky Valley.
“Stites runs hard,” Geist said. “I like the way he runs. It is hard to tell how fast he is, he is just a tough, physical runner. Their offensive line is tough up there. They have one kid, 6-foot tall, 200 pounds and they do a lot of pulling the guards and center to get extra blockers. We are really going to have to stiffen upon defense to have a chance in this one.”
Geist is familiar with the offense that McPherson runs as it is very similar to Abilene’s.
“They are probably a little deeper with their tailback and they line their fullback right up inside right away, while we will shift ours in,” Geist said. “Their formation is really similar to ours.”
The Cowboys enter their final scheduled home game with Tanner Hoekman and Harley Hazlett leading the Cowboy ground attack with 263 and 334 rushing yards respectively. Hazlet has connected on 70 of 125 pass attempts for 1,210 yards and 11 touchdowns and Chase Stalder is 27 for 53 for 515 yards and two touchdowns.
Keil Kelly is the Cowboys leading receiver with 35 catches for 499 yards and four scores, Jesse Patrick has hauled in 22 receptions for 348 yards and a score and Dalton Goodwin has nine receptions for 282 yards and a couple of scores.
Chapman at Smoky Valley
The Fighting Irish takes to the road Friday to face the once-beaten Vikings. Smoky Valley’s lone loss came last week to McPherson in the first week of district play.
“They have quite a few kids back from last year and they have a pretty solid quarterback. He has been injured some this season and last week was his first week back,” Irish coach Trevor Williams said, “He didn’t play a whole lot last week, but he is getting healthy at the right time for them.
“They are a good running team and throwing team. They are balanced and they are going to play a spread offense and they have a good game plan against us on defense. They are a solid football team.”
Smoky Valley gave up more than 360 yards on the ground to McPherson last week so Williams believes his two big backs should have some success against them.
“We are not going to change anything offensively against them,” Williams said. “We are going to rely 90 percent of our offense to the run game with Robert (Walsh) and Logan (Lexow).”
“McPherson’s quarterback was a starter last year and he is a really good athlete, so he makes plays for them,” Williams said. “We think up front we can get some things done and as we told our kids this week, we have got to control the ball and each quarter put together those drives that eat up the clock and get scores. Our goal is get one every quarter and drive down there and take care of the ball.”
Week 7 results:
Abilene 28- Chapman 14
McPherson 42- Smoky Valley 13
Holton 56 – Wamego 6
Goodland 8 – Clay Center 7
Rock Creek 35- Marysville 6
Concordia 22 – Colby 12
Week 8 schedule:
McPherson at Abilene
Chapman at Smoky Valley
Clay Center at Colby
Concordia at Goodland
Wamego at Royal Valley
Marysville at Riley County