McPHERSON — This time last season, McPherson quarterback Tyler Matthews was buried on the bench at Goddard.
Not until the second half of the season did Matthews find the field, and he wound up throwing for more than 1,000 yards.
When his dad took a job in McPherson after football season, Matthews transferred and began studying coach Tom Young's playbook, in anticipation of becoming the Bullpups' quarterback.
After throwing for 296 yards, five touchdowns and completing 85 percent of his passes (17 of 20) in McPherson's 52-27 victory over Andover on Friday night, Matthews better get ready to hear the comparisons with Joel Piper, last year’s quarterback who has moved on to Butler Community College.
"Coach Young is a great coach and we have a good group of guys and this is a good start to what I think is going to be a good year," Matthews said. "We were just clicking tonight and the line blocked, the receivers got openæ.æ.æ. everything was perfect."
Matthews' primary targets, Nick Gawanda and Christian Ulsaker, benefited greatly from Matthews' quick delivery.
Often times the Bullpups’ standout receivers hadn't even turned their heads on their routes and the ball was already there.
Gawanda finished with five catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns, while Ulsaker had eight receptions for 108 yards and a score.
"I compare him a lot to Joel (Piper)," Ulsaker said. "Tyler's ball jumps the last 10 yards and that's something we didn't have last year."
To make matters worse for opponents, McPherson has a lethal running game too.
Kevin O'Connor ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a shovel pass from Matthews and ran it in from 44 yards.
"We were pretty sharp, and in fact, I was surprised how well we executed," Young said. "We've got pretty good balance and we're fortunate to have that talent."
The sight was all too familiar for Andover coach Mike Lee.
One year ago his team lost by the exact score at Buhler, and just like Friday night, gave up yard after yard.
"I don't think any team can match up with McPherson," Lee said. "That is a very, very good team."
The Trojans appeared to have something going in the early stages of the game. Ben Croitoru ran the first play from scrimmage 67 yards for a touchdown, and then the Trojans added a receiving touchdown from Caleb Windholz early in the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead.
The Bullpups responded by scoring touchdowns on six of their next seven series.
To make matters even worse for the Trojans, Croitoru, who rushed for 1,490 yards last season, left the game with a knee injury.
"I'm going to try and be an optimist about it, but it doesn't look good," Lee said. "We are already starting to think where we go from here."
Andover (0-1) 7 7 0 13 — 27
McPherson (1-0) 12 13 20 7 — 52
A—Croitoru 67 run (Hayashi kick)
M—Gawanda 29 pass from Matthews (kick failed)
M—Gawanda 61 pass from Matthews (conversion failed)
A—Windholz 9 pass from Jones (Hayashi kick)
M—Ulsaker 24 pass from Matthews (conversion failed)
M—O'Connor 44 pass from Matthews (Williams kick)
M—O'Connor 18 run (Williams kick)
M—Gawanda 14 pass from Matthews (conversion failed)
M—Davenport 4 run (Williams kick)
M—O'Connor 5 run (Williams kick)
A—Nye 20 run (Hayashi kick)
A—Oberg 38 pass from Matthews (kick failed)
Rushing—Andover, Croitoru 9-110, Nye 6-69, Goering 9-41, Jones 6-37, Gumeringer 4-8, Maloney 1-4, Windholz 2-0. McPherson, O'Connor 18-132, Davenport 8-34, O'Bannon 5-9, Hart 1-7, Matthews 6-1, Gawanda 1-(-5).
Passing—Andover, Jones 4-13-79. McPherson Matthews 17-20-296-1, Houghton 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Andover, Oberg 1-38, Windholz 2-34, Ralston 1-7. McPherson, Gawanda 5-118, Ulsaker 8-108, O'Connor 2-49, Davenport 1-20, Hart 1-11.