Bobcats get back on track
Quarterback switch helps stagnant offense get rolling, Bobcats batter Imac 21-6
With an offense that had been sputtering and had gone two straight games without putting a point on the board, Basehor-Linwood High School football coach Steve Hopkins decided to make a switch at quarterback.
Hopkins gave the starting job to sophomore Tanner Swafford Saturday afternoon at Immaculata in an effort to jumpstart his struggling offense.
Swafford was not only making his debut under center but also his debut on the field. The southpaw quarterback had never stepped foot onto a varsity football field until this season.
After a scoreless first quarter, in which the Bobcat offense, led by Swafford, continued to struggle to move the ball, senior running back Will Peterson decided to take some of the pressure off Swafford's shoulders.
Peterson erupted for 101 yards in the second quarter and finally ended the Bobcats scoring drought.
With just under three minutes left in the first half, Peterson took a pitch from Swafford and ran 30 yards down the sideline for a Basehor-Linwood touchdown.
Peterson has struggled to find room to run since his two touchdown, 189-yard performance in the opener against Bonner Springs, but he got back on track against Immaculata.
"I actually got out there and busted some big runs, which is something I haven't been doing too much of lately," an elated Peterson said after the Bobcats 21-6 win.
No one could rub the smile off Peterson's face after the game. He carried the ball 22 times Saturday for a season-high 193 yards.
He found the end zone a second time in the third quarter, running 21 yards on the same play as his first touchdown, a sweep right. Peterson and Hopkins credited junior fullback Todd Bell's lead blocks on both of Peterson's long touchdown runs.
"I got some nice blocks from Todd," Peterson said. "He cruised over that cornerback and I got the safety and busted a move on him and got to the end zone both times."
The offense was aided all day by the dominating play of the Bobcat defense. The first team defense shut out the Raiders (the second team allowed a fourth quarter touchdown) and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Hopkins credited his defense with giving the offense great field position throughout the game, particularly in the second half when it created several turnovers.
Two turnovers were created by senior free safety Jordan Coffman. After Peterson's first touchdown, the Raiders were finally able to move the ball down the field for the first time. With the Raiders nearing the red zone, Coffman intercepted a deep pass at the nine-yard line with 1:30 left in the first half.
On the Raiders' first possession of the second half, Coffman again played spoiler, knocking the ball loose as he tackled the Imac ball carrier.
Coffman, who Hopkins says is the communicator for the Bobcats on defense and one of the toughest kids on the team, has been the catalyst all season for a defense that is beginning to look dominant.
"I think our defense has really been carrying this team all year," Coffman said. "Once the offense steps in, I think we'll be a powerhouse."
In order for the Bobcats to be deemed a "powerhouse," they will need solid play from their rookie quarterback. Swafford threw for 32 yards Saturday and barely missed a touchdown in the second quarter on a deep ball to his predecessor, senior Garrett Chumley. The ball was inches away from hitting Chumley in stride, and Chumley was not able to hold on.
Hopkins said he was pleased with how Swafford threw the ball and executed the pass reads, once he calmed down and got his feet set. He knew he was putting Swafford in a difficult situation.
"He did just exactly what we'd expect from a sophomore. At times, he had trouble with some of the things that you'd expect like taking snaps and turning the wrong way first step," Hopkins said. "It's the little things that just come from being on the field in a pressure situation."
Although Swafford was not able to get his first touchdown pass against the Raiders, he was able to get it done on the ground. At the end of the third quarter, Swafford ran 13 yards for the first touchdown of his career.
Chumley, who started the first three games at quarterback, is taking the change in stride. He has moved to wide receiver, a position he played during his freshman year.
Hopkins said Chumley has always wanted to play wide receiver but realized the team needed him at quarterback. Now that Swafford has been groomed to play the position, he is happy to move over.
"When we finally got the opportunity this week to talk to Garrett, he was more than willing," Hopkins said. "He said, 'Yes coach, it will make us better and I'll help Tanner.' He's been such a mentor to Tanner and Travis (Inlow)."
With the win, the Bobcats improved to 2-2.
Hopkins is satisfied with his defense's stellar play and said his offense made progress Saturday, but still needs to be more efficient. Hopkins plans on sticking with Swafford at quarterback and Chumley at receiver. And Swafford is just fine with that.
"It's a lot better than standing on the sideline like I used to," Swafford said. "To get some playing time is fun."
The Bobcats will return home this Friday to host Columbus High School for the annual Homecoming game.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m