Bobcats defense stands tall against Pirates
Two BLHS goal-line stands lead Bobcats to victory in season finale
When Piper was within a foot of a touchdown on two separate possessions, the Basehor-Linwood defense would not give up an inch.
And that was the difference in the season finale last Thursday night, the Basehor-Linwood seniors were not going to give up an inch. Not on this night. This night belonged to them.
So when Piper threatened to score on two separate possessions, the BLHS defense lowered its shoulder pads, blew up the Piper linemen and kept the Pirates out of the end zone.
Basehor-Linwood coach Steve Hopkins, who was more animated than usual on the sideline throughout his team's final game of the season, instilled a refuse-to-lose attitude in his players' minds leading up to the final game.
"I wanted to win. I want to win always but it was such a hard thing to think about ending the season and not getting a win," Hopkins said. "The kids have been close a couple of games.
"I think we've been competitive in all but two games and so I was tired of being close. I didn't want to be close."
And that was the difference in the Bobcats' 12-0 victory last Thursday, they didn't accept being close this week.
Their defense made big plays when it needed to, and the offense was finally productive in the red zone where it had struggled all season.
Senior running back Will Peterson and junior fullback Todd Bell combined to provide the Bobcats with their most complete performance of the season.
Bell ran for a season-high 90 yards on 13 carries and scored the first BLHS touchdown of the game.
After the Pirates failed to punch the ball into the end zone near the end of the first quarter, the Bobcats responded by going 98 yards in 13 plays.
Bell and Peterson combined for 88 yards on the drive and Bell got his first touchdown of the season, taking it in from 13 yards out with 7:37 left in the first half.
Peterson, who ran for 167 yards on 28 carries, put the Bobcats up 12-0 just before halftime with his sixth touchdown of the season. Peterson's two-yard TD plunge was set up by senior Dustin Weimer's interception.
Weimer jumped an out route and took off down the sideline, returning the interception all the way to the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Peterson scored the final points of the game.
The Bobcats gave the Pirates a golden opportunity to score early in the third quarter when a handoff between sophomore quarterback Tanner Swafford and Bell was fumbled at the Bobcats 15-yard line. But seven plays later, Piper failed to score once again from the one-foot line.
"The goal line stands were just amazing," Hopkins said. "Most of the time, in all honesty, that's just heart and desire and kids refusing to surrender."
Piper did not punt the rest of the game, but the BLHS defense was able to get one more fourth-down stop and another interception late in the fourth quarter from freshman Chandler Schaake.
Hopkins was able to pay tribute to his seniors on the final drive, inserting every senior into the lineup for a six yard run by Peterson. Hopkins then called time out with 25 seconds left and the BLHS sideline and fans applauded the seniors as they ran off the field together one last time.
"I just love each and every one of them and I think their character really showed at the end, where some people feel like there's nothing to play for," Hopkins said. "They really dedicated themselves this week to finishing up on a positive note."
The Bobcats finished the season 3-6. It wasn't the season they wanted, Weimer said after the game. But his best friend Peterson added, "No matter what our record says, we're a great team."