Freshman sets goals record
Knipp’s hat trick vs. Piper breaks BLHS season record
Not many soccer players get to start at forward for a varsity team at the start of their freshman year. Basehor-Linwood's Austin Knipp got that opportunity this season and has made the most of it so far.
Through the team's first nine games Knipp has scored 14 goals, topping the school's single-season record of 13. Knipp still has at least eight more games to add to his goal total.
"He's got more points to come, he'll score more," coach Ken Couch said. "At the second game I told him he would be our leader scorer. He hadn't scored at that point and that day I told him he'd be our leading scorer and he'd score more than anybody I've had. He wanted it and he was mad at himself when he didn't get it. When people punish themselves for a missed ball, it's better than if I have to."
With his coach's encouragement, Knipp took the scoring load on his shoulders and hasn't looked back. Of the Bobcats 24 goals as a team this year, more than half have come from Knipp. Knipp's role as the Bobcat's go-to player didn't surprise Jon Millison, who coached him in youth soccer leagues since he was 7 years old.
"He was the kind of player that, when you were down he was the one you went to because he never gave up," Millison said. "He had more athletic skill than any kid I saw, he was always athletic, but it was his heart that really did it for him."
As a freshman Knipp may be taking many opponents by surprise, especially given his unassuming nature. Knipp is a quiet player who never seems to call for the ball, and is certainly never heard taunting an opponent. He stands no taller than 5-foot-10, but his lanky build hides deceptive speed and leaping ability sure to come in handy for his other athletic passion, basketball.
This season Knipp has consistently shown the ability to outrun defenders for long passes and out-leap them for strong headers, which has led to many of his goals. Knipp also owes some of his early season success to sophomore Chris Prgomet, who has anchored the midfield for the Bobcats and assisted on many of Knipp's goals. Knipp and Prgomet were teammates in youth soccer.
"I've played with him for awhile now, so we know each other," Knipp said. "He's a pretty good passer and he likes to keep the team going."
Knipp also credited his family, Millison and the rest of his teammates for helping him hone his skills and break the record. His father, Gary, said he and Austin's older brother had been athletes themselves, and Austin never lacked for advice and encouragement.
"We're kind of more or less coaching him from both sides. My son does it from Colorado and I do it here from Basehor," Gary Knipp said. "So far he's doing real well, and we're really proud of him."
Couch said he looked forward to having Knipp on the team for the next three years, and that his quiet determination would be a good thing for younger players to look up to in the future.
Knipp's leadership is already apparent, as his goals for the future remain modest and team-oriented, despite his instant success.
"I'm just looking to win games," Knipp said. "I mean, it matters if I score, but the most important thing is that we win games, and having our high school be known as good at sports, and soccer especially."