Bobcats grounded by Pintos, 42-7
Both Basehor-Linwood High School and California High School handed out compliments after their football game Saturday, Sept. 8. Unfortunately for BLHS, however, the compliments did very little to change the outcome of the game, as the Bobcats fell to CHS, 42-7.
The game was postponed Friday night because of a dangerous storm that moved through the area. Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats took the game's first possession and looked like a dangerous storm themselves, as they marched down the field in seven plays, covered 65 yards and used up 5:26 on the clock.
"The first half we played pretty good football," BLHS coach Paul Brown said. "We took the opening drive down the field and put it in the end zone and showed that we could play with them. And then the rest of the first half we played pretty tough, too."
Indeed they did. After scoring on their first possession, the Bobcats then stopped CHS on its first drive and after one quarter of play BLHS led the game, 7-0. The Bobcats' score came on a five-yard Joey Barlow touchdown run. The run capped a drive that saw both Barlow and tailback John Clouse put together nice runs and quarterback Nick Verbenec complete his first pass of the game to tight end Jake Brown on a big third down play.
"In the first half, we played great," Verbenec said. "Our goal was to end their five-year streak of regular season wins, and in the beginning we came out ready to do that."
After BLHS turned California away once, the Pintos got the ball back near the end of the first quarter and one minute into the second quarter they had tied the game thanks to a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Seth Stauffer. The CHS drive spanned 67 yards in seven plays and took just 2:33 off the clock. On the ensuing kickoff, BLHS return man Jeff Lackner fumbled the ball as he fought for extra yardage and CHS recovered. Seven plays, 35 yards and 2:32 later, the Pintos took the lead 14-7 on a seven-yard run by fullback Brandon Dunham.
The Pintos took that same lead into the locker room at halftime and in the second half they came out and scored four more times in putting the Bobcats away.
"I really don't know what happened in that second half," BLHS senior lineman Justin Ishmael said. "This happened to us last year (losing the first two games) and we came back and went undefeated in our league and I think we'll do the same thing this year. I'm not down at all, I like playing these guys."
The second half began with a bang for the Bobcats. The Bobcats kicked off to CHS to start the half and the deep kick pinned the Pintos back deep when Lackner nailed the return man at the 10-yard-line and knocked his mouthpiece out. On the next play, however, CHS's Rashaad Thompkins took the handoff up the middle and didn't stop until 90 yards later when he reached the end zone.
"That first touchdown run in the second half kind of broke our spirits," Verbenec said. "We never really recovered from that."
The first play of the second half was a sign of what was to come, as the Pintos racked up 414 yards on the ground against the Bobcats. Despite giving up so many yards and points, Brown remained upbeat about his team and the rest of the season.
"That young man's just a great athlete, we saw that on film and we saw that today," Brown said. "We were better in this game than we were a year ago, by far, but I think they are a better team than they were last year, too. They are just so solid in execution and they don't make many mistakes."
Other than a seven-play drive that followed Thompkins' long run, and a nine-play drive late in the game, the Bobcats never really got anything going in the second half.
"There were a couple of times where the runs were there, but we were just a step slow in getting there," Brown said. "The whole key to the entire game was that we just didn't sustain our intensity. But we did learn from it. These are the teams you want to play because these are the teams that teach you how to be champions."
BLHS will dive into Kaw Valley League action Friday, Sept. 14, when it travels to De Soto for its third game of the season. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and it will be played at De Soto District Stadium.