‘We’ll be back’
Bobcats vow to return to winning ways in 2003
After winning back-to-back Kaw Valley League titles, the Basehor-Linwood High School football team treaded through unfamiliar water in 2002.
The Bobcats, who were expected to challenge for a third-straight league title, finished the season with no wins in nine tries.
But as they get set to enter the 2003 season, BLHS coach Paul Brown is confident the team won't be bogged down by the lingering effects of a winless season.
"One of the biggest things we've worked on so far is attitude and approach," Brown said. "Any time you're coming off a tough season, you have to make sure your guys have the right attitude and want to move forward. I'm very pleased with what I've seen so far."
Brown's optimism comes in large part because of the crop of returning linemen the Bobcats will put on the field.
With six starters back on offense and defense, Brown said he's thrilled that so many of them play up front.
"Most coaches will tell you that you win or lose at the line," Brown said. "So I'd think with as many guys returning as we have, that's a good sign for us."
Ryan Heffley, Corey Jones, Kris Johnson, Tim Ward and Tim Brownlee all spent significant time in the trenches in 2002. Brown said the roles of the linemen will be the same this season and he expects them to control games.
"We've got some good players back at linebacker and secondary, but our strength on defense is definitely up front with those big guys," Brown said.
On offense, Brown believes he has a pair of strong points. The first is the line, which will feature many of the same players as the D-Line, and the second is at quarterback.
Senior Adam Smith and junior Michael Armstrong will battle it out for the starting position.
Smith, who started every game a season ago, is primarily a pocket passer. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, he has good speed and is a good athlete who can scramble if necessary.
Armstrong is a little smaller and a little faster than Smith, and his best skill is running the ball and throwing on the run.
Brown said no matter who wins the job, he thinks his team will compete and he knows both players will be able to manage the BLHS offense.
"Every year you add a new wrinkle that helps the team get excited," Brown said. "I think we have a good situation at quarterback because we've got a kid who started a whole year and learned a lot of things, and we've got another kid right behind him who's going to push him every step of the way."
A pair of wide receivers who saw limited action in 2002 -- Ryan Robinson and Joey Brown -- will play on the outside for the Bobcats. And senior Tyler Dowdall and junior Pete Brown will battle it out in the backfield at the tailback spot.
Pete Brown, who will likely also start at linebacker, said the team is not worried about who starts and who doesn't. The focus this year is on returning to the form that made Basehor-Linwood synonymous with winning.
"The biggest thing we have going for us this year is that we're there for each other on and off the field," Pete Brown said. "We know what happened last year and we don't want that to ever happen again. We're more determined this year because of last year."
And coach Brown said determination is something that should produce quality wins in 2003.
"After 27 years of coaching, I can't remember seeing very many teams with as much camaraderie and togetherness as this group,"Brown said. "I've seen a few but not very many."
BLHS will open the season Sept. 5 at home against Paola.