It’s that time again …
Basehor-Linwood football team tackles the basics in preseason camp
It's a testament to just how young and inexperienced his team is that Steve Hopkins spent part of Monday's football practice teaching his players how to run. It might seem like a basic athletic skill, but Hopkins could be heard trying to refine his youngsters' techniques as they ran through drills in the Monday evening session of this year's preseason camp at Basehor-Linwood High School.
"Make your arms move," Hopkins yelled. "We've got to get faster for God's sake."
About 50 players turned out for the first day of the three-day camp, which includes morning and evening sessions. More than half of them were freshmen or sophomores and only four of them were seniors. Because so many of his players are young and because they're only allowed to practice in shorts and T-shirts right now, Hopkins main goal for the camp is to teach "football theory," in a sense.
"We're not going to work on how to play football, as odd as that sounds, because we can't wear pads," Hopkins said. "It's frustrating, but that being said, we're very pleased with how the first day went. At the end we need to have knowledge of our offense and defense."
Hopkins wants to get most of the pre-snap preparation out of the way in camp so that when regular practices start his players will have a working knowledge of where to line up and who to block, and will know all the alignments and formations forwards and backwards. Those who haven't picked up on that by the end of camp probably won't play in the Sept. 1 season opener at Bonner Springs.
That's not a cold-hearted calculation by Hopkins; it's more of a necessary measure. After camp, the team can't practice again until Aug. 14, which is the same day classes start at BLHS. The early start by the high school means that the Bobcats won't be able to have two-a-days in August like some other schools. They'll be limited to after-school practices, which won't start until the twilight hours if there's another 100-degree heat wave.
The lack of preseason practice time is bad news for Hopkins, who has a lot of players who need significant coaching before they're ready to take the field. Fortunately for him, he does have a few who are already well-versed in his program and football in general. At the head of that list are the four seniors: linebacker Kevin Marshall, wide receiver/defensive back Ben Adams, defensive lineman Nick Davis and lineman Chad Whitlow.
Whitlow is a transfer from Leavenworth who has only been in Basehor for five weeks but has really pitched in already, according to Hopkins. Adams and Davis are experienced players who have already proved that they're solid at the varsity level. But the jewel of the senior class, and possibly of the whole team, is Marshall.
Marshall earned an honorable mention for the All-Kaw Valley League defense last year when he was all over the field and one of the Bobcats' leading tacklers. Marshall will play some offense this year, but Hopkins said he wants him to preserve most of his energy for defense, where he will line up at linebacker, defensive end, or anywhere Hopkins sees fit in order to disrupt the other team's offense.
"The nice thing about Kevin is wherever you put him he'll go full speed to the ball every play," Hopkins said.
Hopkins added that not wearing pads and not playing full contact was harder on Marshall than anyone else during camp. The senior simply loves to hit and found it hard to pull up during drills.
He'll be unleashed soon enough, though, and the Bobcats will need his aggression to set the tone for a squad full of younger players.