Bobcats, Braves prepare to square off on the gridiron
Even though his team had just lost a heartbreaking overtime game against Abilene last Friday, BLHS lineman Ryan Heffley was already talking about next week.
What made Heffley push aside the tough loss so quickly? The Bobcats' next opponent was arch-rival Bonner Springs, a game that Heffley said demanded full concentration, despite the Bobcats 1-4 record.
Bobcats' coach Paul Brown said the rivalry was important to many of his players.
"I think the kids all know each other really well," Brown said. "That makes this a special game for them, because they're the rivals from a nearby town."
Although the Bobcats have moved on from last week's loss mentally, a few physical reminders remain.
Tight end Kyle Speichinger injured his leg during the second half against Abilene. Brown said he wouldn't play this week and wasn't sure of his status for the week after.
Brown said running back Billy Hashman would also be out of action. He was more optimistic about the status of running back Tyler Dowdall, who played only sparingly late in the Abilene game after hurting his knee.
"He's moving into it pretty well," Brown said after watching Dowdall on Tuesday.
With Speichinger out, quarterback Adam Smith loses his favorite receiver, a tough blow for a passing game that has already been struggling recently.
Brian Creed filled in for Speichinger in the Abilene game, and at 6-foot-6, Creed is one of the few Bobcats who can replace Speichinger's size.
Smith may also have to look for senior wide receiver Garyn Gorup more than usual in the short passing game. His favorite deep threat, Joey Brown, will be expected to stretch the defense, as always.
If the offense falters, the defense will be well-equipped to carry the team until it wakes up.
After allowing just six points in the last two games, the Bobcats defense is establishing itself as a squad that bends but doesn't break, and has a knack for coming up with turnovers at key moments. Coach Brown said the defense was prepared for the Bonner Springs attack, predicting that Braves' running back Drew Hess would be a focal point.
"Statistically they're more of a running team," Brown said. "They run about 70 percent of the time and pass about 30 percent."
Hess and the Braves' running game will be a challenge, but the way the Bobcats' defense has played recently, one explosive play from their offense could lead to a loud explosion from the Basehor home crowd at the final whistle.
The Bobcats and Braves clash at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 at BLHS.