Bobcats look to ground Ward’s Wing
Chris Wing has a very appropriate name, considering all the damage he's done through the air for the Bishop Ward (3-4) football team this year.
Wing, a senior wide receiver, will come into Friday's game against Basehor-Linwood (2-5) with 11 touchdown catches and more than 650 receiving yards in seven games.
Wing was named Athlete of the Week by the Kansas City Star on Oct. 13, after snagging seven passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-6 win over Santa Fe Trail. One of his scores came on a short pass that he turned into a 97-yard touchdown.
To win their first district game this Friday, the Bobcats will have to keep Wing from getting free.
Doing that actually starts with stopping the run, according to BLHS coach Steve Hopkins.
"The key to stopping him is to rush the QB and not give him time to throw deep," Hopkins said. "To do that we have to get their running game stopped and force them to throw. If we don't stop the run we can't know when they will pass, and then they can pick their spots."
Hopkins said the team wouldn't assign one specific defensive back to cover Wing. Rather, he plans to rotate players and switch between man-to-man and zone coverage.
The defensive backs form one of Basehor-Linwood's top units, especially if senior Ben Adams has recovered from a bone bruise in time for Friday's game.
Adams and safeties Chandler Schaake and Travis Inlow have been rock-solid most of season. Last week, with Adams out, the Bobcats got standout performances from two other defensive backs, sophomore Anthony Pierce and freshman Bobby Courtney.
When they face Ward, the Bobcats will be coming off their best offensive game of the year, a 26-24 victory over Westport. Schaake and Tyler Miles both nearly reached 100 yards rushing in that game, and Miles found the end zone twice. Still, Hopkins doesn't think his team is ready for a shootout with Ward.
"We are not really even close offensively, though we did make progress (last week)," Hopkins said. "We finally blocked better in spots, but not enough."
A victory against Ward would put BLHS at 2-0 in district play, including a forfeit by St. James Academy.
Ward beat Piper in the two teams' first district game last week to go to 2-0.
Even if the Bobcats beat Ward they might still need to beat Piper the following week to clinch a spot in the state playoff.
A loss to Ward would not put the Bobcats out of the running, as they could still clinch by beating Piper and sending the Pirates to 1-2.
Even though Friday's game isn't a "must-win" Hopkins said it was being met with the same nervousness and emotion as most district games.
"We are excited and anticipating the challenge," Hopkins said. "Ward is playing great and they have several weapons."
Friday's game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Bishop Ward's football field, which is two blocks east of the high school.
To get there, turn east on Ann Avenue off of 18th Street in Kansas City, Kan.