McLouth finds success at KU, ESU tourneys
Talk about a mismatch.
Class 2A McLouth taking on Class 6A Olathe North.
McLouth hasn't won a football game in about three years; O-North has won four consecutive state titles.
In a 7-on-7 tournament June 12 at Emporia State, however, the Bulldogs held their own.
North slipped by McLouth, 25-19, in the tournament championship.
Granted, this competition didn't include linemen or helmets and full equipment, but it still was encouraging for second-year MHS coach Harry Hester.
"To stay with their skill players with our skill players was very exciting and very impressive," Hester said. "It shows what our kids can do."
MHS went 4-2 on the day with its two losses coming to O-North. In the other game, the Eagles won, 18-12, in double overtime.
"I've never seen overtime, let alone double overtime," Hester said about the 7-on-7 competition.
The Bulldogs defeated Columbus (13-6) and Shawnee Heights (25-13). In their first game, MHS defeated Cherryvale, 20-12. Hester coached at CHS before coming to McLouth.
"I coached all the kids on the field," Hester said. "It was kind of an odd feeling."
At the KU Great Plains Shootout on June 5 in Lawrence, McLouth again went 4-2. The Bulldogs defeated Sherwood, Mo. (20-0), Rock Bridge, Mo. (27-6), Elwood (19-7) and St. Joseph, Mo. (27-13). MHS lost to Blue Valley Northwest (32-20) and Liberty, Mo. (27-20).
The team currently is competing in a 7-on-7 tournament in McLouth. In Pool A, McLouth I is 5-1 and tied with Jefferson County North. Oskaloosa (4-2) and Troy (0-6) round out that pool. In Pool B, Pleasant Ridge is in first with a 5-1 record, while Valley Falls is second at 3-3. McLouth II is 2-5 and McLouth III is 1-6.
Hester said the team is averaging 32 players in the weight room a day, about nine more than a year ago. The team should be large in numbers come fall. About 50 students signed up to play earlier this year.
"We're pretty excited," Hester said. "It's good to be working hard."
Players in McLouth are optimistic that the program's recent struggles soon will be reversed.
"Our motto now is we don't have any excuses," Hester said. "We're not going to be young, not inexperienced. Same offense, same defense, same coach.
"We're trying to sell that and the kids have bought into it."
The Bulldogs will have their team camp July 26-30. The players will have their second annual lift-a-thon on July 31 in the morning and then a intra-squad 7-on-7 competition. The linemen even will have a team, Hester said.
And that night, the team will travel to the Shrine Bowl in Emporia. While at Cherryvale, Hester coached three players who will participate in the all-star game.
"It will be a good way to end the week I think," Hester said.
McLouth opens the season Sept. 3 when the Bulldogs travel to Horton.