Opinion: Bobcats display true heart
didn't see this coming.
That's what I was thinking as I sat in the stands during the closing seconds of Basehor-Linwood's 28-15 victory over Bonner Springs last Friday.
That's also why I was kicking myself: I didn't see it coming, and I should have.
After covering the Bobcats all year I should have known they were on the verge of a victory where they would finally put it all together and pound their opponent into submission.
I should have known, but I didn't. I went into that game doubting the Bobcats.
It wasn't because they hadn't played well. Actually it was because they had played well.
Because they had played extremely well most of the season and were still only 1-4.
I felt like there was some dark cloud hanging over this team, and that one bad break on Friday would bring the rain down.
One fumble, one costly penalty and the team would say "oh, it's one of those games again," and watch their confidence drain away. In short, I doubted the Bobcats' heart, and shame on me for that.
After the Bobcats' crushing overtime loss to Abilene, senior Ryan Heffley said they would just have to put it behind them and concentrate on Bonner. It sounded like the same old, "we'll get'em next week," line, but Heffley was obviously being sincere.
The Bobcats didn't let any negative feelings carry over into the Bonner game.
There were a few mishaps, of course. Two fumbles lost in Braves' territory and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that cut short a great fumble return by Heffley. But the Bobcats overcame them all, relying on the fierce defense that has become the team's foundation, and an explosive performance by Mike Armstrong.
After scoring three touchdowns in his first start at quarterback, Armstrong said he was ready to step up and lead the team as far as he could.
Bold words for a junior on a team full of seniors, but Armstrong's heart transcends his year in school and his teammates seem to recognize that.
Armstrong, Peter Brown and Brice Beshara all played nearly the whole game; offense, defense and special teams. What better measure of heart is that, when players are willing to play any position at any time if it will help their team win?
What about Adam Smith, the senior quarterback who started the first five games for the Bobcats and was relegated to mop-up duty at the end of Armstrong's coming-out party?
Surely if any of the Bobcats were bitter or disappointed it would be Smith.
Yet there he was hugging his family after the game, his smile as big and genuine as anyone else's.
That was a testament to Smith's heart and a sign that he'll continue to be a leader this year no matter what his role on the field turns out to be.
There's still plenty of time for the Bobcats to build on this win and have the kind of season they envisioned at the beginning of the year.
No matter what happens I sure as heck will never doubt the heart of this team again.