Football season under way for BLHS die-hards
The beginning of the school year and the start of football practice is still months away, but apparently someone forgot to tell the Basehor-Linwood Bobcat football team that.
Members of the football squad began this week competing in a seven-on-seven summer football league composed of six area schools that compete in Monday evening games.
The league will give the players a chance to see how they stack up against the likes of players from Bishop Ward, Lansing, Piper, Pleasant Ridge and Bonner Springs high schools.
More importantly, the action will give the players a chance to make improvements in the off-season and get ahead when the regular season begins.
"Some of ours goals are to get the players focused on doing football things over the summer," said Nick Verbenec, former Bobcats' standout quarterback and acting summer coach. "We really hope to see guys improving each week, each day and each rep."
On the gridiron, the play is a little bit different than one might expect to see in a traditional football game.
The name of the game is touch football. The field is shortened to 40 yards, and the clock runs continuously.
The linemen are absent, the running game is not used and, of course, the teams are limited to seven players on offense and defense. The players don't play with pads or helmets, just mesh jerseys, shorts, hearts and dreams.
"I think this league will give us a real chance to be pretty good in the fall," linebacker/fullback Josh Ishmael said. "We are going to be a young team and we are trying to develop some team unity this summer."
Verbenec said the games were moved from Saturday mornings to 6 p.m. Mondays to allow the teams a chance to compete in other area weekend football tournaments.
The Bobcats got their first test on June 7 when they competed in a tournament against some of the top programs in Missouri at Central Missouri State University.
Verbenec said the team did not match up well, but that only left room for improvement.
"We are still going to be working on some of the little things like techniques and such," former Bobcats' safety and summer coach Steve Brown said. "The more that everyone learns now, the quicker they will be able to progress in the fall."
The Bobcats drew Pleasant Ridge and Bonner Springs during the first night of competition.
The Bobcats probably are hoping the seven-on-seven action will be a sign of things to come in the fall.
The offense moved the ball through the two opposing defenses and seemed to score almost at will. Both quarterbacks, senior Adam Smith and junior Michael Armstrong, found open receivers and moved the ball across the field effectively. On the other side of the ball, the defense held its ground on many stands as well.
"I've already noticed dramatic improvements," Verbenec said. "Offensively both QBs had great reads and great passes."