Bobcats rout Piper, earn first postseason berth in 3 seasons
What a difference two years make.
Two seasons after a registering a winless campaign, the Basehor-Linwood High School football team collected their fifth win of the 2004 season and a berth in the Bi-District playoffs by throttling Piper High School 48-28 last Thursday. The win pits the Bobcats in a rematch with nearby rival Tonganoxie for the Bi-District Championship.
"It feels great," said Basehor senior offensive and defensive lineman Tim Brownlee after the game. "After the Tonganoxie loss Coach Hopkins said that we were going to make it or break it and that the seniors need to step up, and that's what we've been doing. We're a team united."
That united team effort paid off in big ways for the Bobcats Thursday as they compiled 381 yards of total offense -- 292 of them on the ground.
Senior quarterback Michael Armstrong continued his return to game-breaking form with an incredible night. Armstrong rushed for 187 yards on 15 carries (12.5 yds./per) and 3 touchdowns while completing 7 of 10 passes for 89 yards and 2 more TDs. Senior fullback Josh Ishmael added two touchdowns and a two-point conversion reception, while senior tight end Kyle Speichinger collected 3 passes for 37 yards, adding a touchdown and a two-point conversion catch to his totals.
"Our quarterback ran well tonight," said Bobcat head coach Steve Hopkins following Thursday's win. "Our linemen finally saw some linebackers tonight and smacked into them. We haven't added a single play on offense or defense. We're just getting the fundamentals of blocking and tackling done better.
As pleased as Hopkins was with his team's effort, the first quarter of Thursday's game still might have worried him.
After taking an early 6-0 lead on a Michael Armstrong 55-yard scramble for a TD, the Bobcats relinquished the advantage after the Pirates moved easily down the field and capped off the drive with a Garrett Weddle 2-yard scoring plunge. Chris Kubicki's extra point briefly gave the Pirates the lead at 7-6.
However, the Bobcats moved the ball well into Pirate territory where Armstrong hit senior wide receiver Set Lashbrook with a 37-yard pass for touchdown. The Armstrong-to-Speichinger conversion pass made the score 14-7 Bobcats after one quarter. It was a lead Basehor did not lose the rest of the contest.
The second quarter was dominated by Armstrong and the Bobcats who increased their advantage on a 21-yard Armstrong keeper for a touchdown, and then on a 20-yard pass completion for a touchdown from Armstrong to Speichinger. Both scores pushed the Bobcat advantage to 28-7.
After Weddle brought the Pirates back to within 14 on a 6-yard TD pass to Chris Shannon, Armstrong completed his incredible 2nd quarter with an amazing 76-yard touchdown run, his longest of the season, to give the Bobcats a 34-6 halftime lead.
In the second half the Bobcats were content to grind out the remaining minutes but still found big enough holes to help Ishmael earn his two touchdowns on a carry of two yards and a carry of six yards. Two late scores by the Pirates made the final score 48-28 Basehor.
While happy with the victory, Hopkins still had his eyes on the future --in particular, a date on Nov. 2 with 8-1 Tonganoxie who drilled the Bobcats 55-14 last month.
"We told our seniors," said Hopkins, "that we hope they're pleased with what they've accomplished, but we hope they're not satisfied."
According to the seniors, Coach Hopkins admonition will not go unheeded.
"Nothing went right the first time we played Tonganoxie," said senior wideout Jayce Proctor. "We know we're capable of a lot more."
Brownlee was even more emphatic in his optimistic outlook.
"A few years ago we had an undefeated freshman team," Brownlee said. "Our coach at the time called us 'The Band of Brothers' and that really brought us together. Well, 'The Band' is back!"
When someone added a comment that the Bobcats did indeed resemble the 'Band of Brothers' of the 81st Airborne fame, only without the guns, Brownlee's reply was both humorous and decidedly pointed to Tuesday's contest.
While flexing a large right biceps, Brownlee grinned and said simply, "Oh, we've got the guns."