Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

Top Bobcat building a better future

October 21, 2004

Steve Hopkins came to BLHS intending to build a struggling football program up to the top of the area standings. To do so, he made the sacrifice of leaving a program that was already there.

Hopkins coached Odessa to three straight conference championships from 2000-2002 and a second place finish last year. He also set the foundation for this year's Odessa team, which is 6-1 and ranked first in The Kansas City Star's small-class poll.

Basehor has started out 3-4 under Hopkins. That's a significant improvement for a Bobcats team that managed just two wins in the last two seasons combined, but not quite the winning Hopkins is used to. Still, the coach says there's no place he'd rather be.

"It was time to move on for the sake of my family and I am very excited about the opportunity to build a solid program here," Hopkins said.

When Hopkins signed on with BLHS last spring, he said family had played a big part in the move. He wanted a smaller school where his kids would be able to participate in lots of activities in a community close to KC, but with a small town feel. Still, he knew what he'd be leaving behind on the Odessa football field.

"We expected to be good," Hopkins said, "and our program was in place with many athletes ready to step up each year. We hope we are building this type of foundation here."

It seems that Hopkins left the Odessa program in good hands. New coach Greg Jones stepped into the enviable position Hopkins vacated and led the team to an undefeated record throughout the first half of the season. Odessa was 6-0 before last week's crushing 34-7 defeat against Oak Grove, another 6-1 team. Despite the defeat, Hopkins said he expected Jones to continue to shine.

"I don't know him well, but I have coached with him in all-star games," Hopkins said of Jones. "He's an excellent defensive coach who will do a good job building on our past tradition."

Meanwhile, Hopkins is focused on building BLHS back into a conference contender and a small class superpower. Basehor's record is fairly impressive compared to the last couple year's, but to really see how far they've come under Hopkins, last week's defeat against Lansing may be even more telling.

Last year's Bobcats had all kinds of trouble offensively. They were routinely held under 20 points in a season highlighted by a 2-0 victory, one of football's rarest events. Last week the offense stuck with 5-2 Lansing through three overtimes, putting up 34 points. Three of Basehor's four touchdowns came from 30 yards out or more.

But all four touchdowns came from talented seniors Mike Armstrong, Seth Lashbrook and Josh Ishmael. Lashbrook also converted 4-4 extra points and two pressure-packed field goals to finish out the scoring.

The key to Hopkins turning Basehor into a program like the one he left in Odessa will be how the team fares in the next few years, as the players he has coached for three or four years take the torch from this year's seniors.

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