Bobcats’ Armstrong strong arms Braves
Basehor-Linwood QB leads team to 2nd straight win over Bonner Springs
Riding a thundering ground game led by senior quarterback Michael Armstrong, the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats downed Bonner Springs High School, 23-14 last Friday night.
The game plan was simple: run up the middle, run up the middle, and, when that didn't work, run up the middle again. The Bobcats did just that on Friday to the tune of 350 total rushing yards. Armstrong led the way on the ground for the Bobcats with 186 of his 232 yards of total offense coming on 19 carries. Armstrong also scored all three touchdowns for Basehor, who, for the second year in a row, began their season by beating local rival Bonner Springs. Armstrong was ably supported in the backfield by junior tailback Will Peterson, who carried the ball 18 times for 112 yards, and senior fullback Josh Ishmael who added 29 yards on eight carries.
Before the game, BLHS coach Steve Hopkins was worried about how to negate an obvious speed advantage that the Braves had on his team. "Their outside linebackers are real men, so we had to stay just underneath them, in the B and C gap," Hopkins said immediately following the game Friday night. "We creased 'em inside, cause we knew we couldn't beat them outside."
That offensive approach paid off on the Bobcats third offensive possession of the game. After linebacker Brian Marshall had sacked quarterback Bonner quarterback Jordan Lamb on second down, he then forced the Braves QB to get rid of the ball in the end zone or face a safety on 3rd down, forcing a Bonner punt from deep in their own end zone. A personal foul facemask penalty on the return resulted in the ball being placed at the Bonner 17. Four plays later, it was Armstrong on a 13-yard keeper up the middle for BLHS' first score of the night.
Bonner would later put together a 51-yard drive late in the half, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown run by Christian McDonald. However, the extra point was failed and the Bobcats led 7-6 with under four minutes to play in the half.
Basehor then put together a dramatic 11-play, 78-yard, half-ending drive that culminated in an Armstrong dive for a touchdown with no time left on the clock. Peterson and Armstrong figured heavily in the drive with Peterson gaining 24 yards and Armstrong contributing 32 yards and the half-ending TD that made the score 13-6.
The Bobcats would drive again at the end of the third quarter -- a 30-yard drive that would climax with a Seth Lashbrook 21-yard field goal, boosting the 'Cats advantage to 10 at the beginning of the final period.
BLHS's final score would be of the big-play variety halfway through the fourth quarter. On that play, Armstrong faked a cross give and then sprinted down the field 62 yards to the end zone, making a couple of jukes that shook two defenders.
The Braves would score one more time on a 45-yard drive that ended in a 19-yard Lamb to Elliot Basler touchdown pass, that made the final score 23-14. However, the night belonged to the Bobcats who outgained their opponents by over 250 yards on the ground and by 210 yards overall.
After the game, Hopkins' praise for his players was effusive. "Michael Armstrong is a ferocious playmaker," Hopkins stated. "He refuses to lose. He has that 'Brett Favre' attitude." Of tailback Peterson, Hopkins asserted, "Will's not the fastest guy in the world. He might not beat you from here to the corner in a foot race, but if you grab onto him, I guarantee you he will drag you into that corner. He's very shifty and has a great desire to finish every play. Pound for pound, he is our strongest athlete."
And while Hopkins sang the praises of his players, his players sang the praises of Hopkins' summer weight and conditioning program, pointing to that as key preparation for this win. "Just regular football is so much better," said Ishmael. "Our blocks are more explosive and we're more prepared to finish every play."
This win may not come as a surprise to the Bobcat players and coaches who worked hard in the weight room over the summer, but it will certainly open the eyes of upcoming BLHS opponents. "The offense we run makes it hard for other teams to scout us," said Armstrong in post-game comments. Hopkins agreed, noting that, "We are really just attempting to fool teams with motion and alignment, but our plays are very simple. Honestly, we only have about 60 percent of our offense in."
The 1-0 Bobcats head to Tonganoxie for their next contest, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10.