Bobcats snag second victory
The Basehor-Linwood High School football team's offense had struggled through the first six games of the season, scoring only four touchdowns.
On Friday, though, all the unit needed to get going was a good kick from Bobby Courtney.
The freshman kicker executed an onside kick to perfection on the game's opening play and less than two minutes later the Bobcats were in the end zone.
It was the beginning of a four-touchdown day for the offense, and the Bobcats needed all four as they held on to beat Westport (Mo.) 26-24.
The onside kick gave the Bobcats the ball with great field position to start the game, but BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said he called the play mainly to keep the ball out of the hands of Westport's return man, Chauncey Slayton.
"We were not going to kick it deep to number 10," Hopkins said. "That young man has, I believe, six punt or kick returns for touchdowns this year."
Courtney's kick bounded along the ground toward the left sideline. It never took the big, high hop that NFL kickers shoot for on onside kicks, but it bounced between a couple of Tigers and BLHS wide receiver Anthony Pierce dived on it at the Westport 48-yard line.
"Man, our guys executed that well," Hopkins said. "Our kickoff was probably the best thing we did tonight."
Courtney said there was no real strategy to the kick, only that it was designed to go left.
"I was just trying to put it where I knew I had to," he said.
Before his team took the field for the kick Hopkins had told his offense the first four plays he wanted to run if it worked. As it turned out, he couldn't have scripted it much better. Chandler Schaake took the ball twice off left tackle for a total of nine yards and then Tyler Miles got two carries for 23.
On the fifth play of the drive Miles took the ball left through a huge hole, then cut inside and strolled into the end zone from 16 yards out.
"My offensive line made so many holes," Miles said. "I had so many to choose from, I couldn't go wrong."
Basehor-Linwood dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball Friday, but Westport's super-athletic players at the skill positions made enough plays to keep the Tigers in the game. The first was a 15-yard bootleg run by speedy quarterback Michael James that, along with a two-point conversion, put Westport up 8-6.
Schaake and Miles answered that with another touchdown drive, though, with the offensive line paving the way for them. Miles got a great block from Pierce on a 16-yard run, and then finished the drive on the next play, scooting just inside the right pylon.
The Bobcats went into halftime up 12-8 as Westport's last drives ended with Swede Johnson forcing a fumble and Schaake getting an interception.
The Bobcats took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove down to the one-yard line, where they narrowly avoided disaster. On third down they fumbled at the goal line, but caught a break when offensive lineman Chad Whitlow recovered in the end zone.
"I was supposed to cut block, and I landed in the end zone," Whitlow said. "I'm laying on the ground, looking up, when I see the ball fall. So I just grabbed it, scooped it up."
Whitlow said it was the first time he'd scored since he was a freshman, playing at Leavenworth, when he ran back a blocked punt. After Whitlow's touchdown, Courtney got off his first extra point try and nailed it to put BLHS up 19-8.
After bad snaps kept Courtney from even getting to attempt a point-after earlier in the year, he went 2-2 on Friday.
His second came with six minutes left in the game and put the Bobcats up 26-16. The two points turned out to be big after James scored the game's last touchdown on a 46-yard scamper that cut the lead to 26-24.
"That felt good," Courtney said. "My first shot at extra points this season and knowing they helped us win was nice."
For more on the game see page 5B.