Bulldogs put Braves’ playoff plans on hold
If winning football games were simply a matter of want and desire, every team in the state would be undefeated.
Think about it. Does anyone really want to lose?
That's what's so perplexing about the Bonner Springs High School football team's last contest -- and, really, the team's season.
The Braves have been terrific at times this season. Those times coincide greatly with the moments when the team plays with the most energy, intensity, passion and focus.
On the flip side, the team has also been awful at times. And occasionally, as was the case in last Thursday's 38-14 loss to Wyandotte, the Braves have been both in the same game.
After taking the field with a relaxed attitude and almost no sense of urgency, the Braves found themselves trailing 16-0 in the blink of an eye.
Wyandotte tailback Arrison Davis set up the Bulldogs' first two touchdowns with his blinding speed. The TDs came in the first six minutes of the game and Wyandotte tacked on two-point conversions after both because it rarely elects to kick.
After taking the initial blow, the Braves got back into the game because of pure desire.
After seeing the Wyandotte lead grow to 24-0 with 1:21 left in the first half, Bonner Springs responded with its first touchdown drive of the game.
Instead of dancing and waiting for a hole, junior running back Tyler Jock just ran. Instead of thinking too much and making mental mistakes, the offensive line got angry.
The result was a five-play touchdown drive that covered 57 yards and took just one minute and four seconds.
The touchdown came via a pass from Willie Wilson to Anthony Brown, who tipped the ball to himself in the corner of the end zone for his sixth score of the season.
Despite a forgettable first half, the Braves trailed just 24-6 and were scheduled to receive the second half kickoff.
On the opening drive of the second half, the BSHS offense picked up where it left off. Jock ran possessed. The O-Line blocked with intensity and anger. And the Braves' second score came just four minutes into the half when Wilson hit Andy Smith over the middle for a seven-yard touchdown. Jock converted the two-point run and the Braves cut the score to 24-14 with almost two full quarters to play.
"Everybody wanted it on that first drive of the second half," Jock said. "They just wanted it and we got it. But after that drive, we just let down again."
The Bonner Springs defense was the first to go.
Wyandotte responded to the Braves' impressive second-half scoring drive with one of its own. The Bulldogs traveled 42 yards in 10 plays, converted one fourth down along the way, and ran 4:26 off of the game clock.
The biggest play of the drive, a five-yard run from Davis on fourth-and-four in which he easily gained the corner and turned the ball upfield, summed up the defensive problems the Braves endured all night.
"Everybody played hard," BSHS coach Lew Kasselman said. "We just couldn't handle their speed. After that first series, everybody just played scared to death -- like they thought he could break one every time he touched the ball."
In a lot of ways, that was correct. Davis finished the night with 270 yards on the ground on just 22 carries. That's an average of 12.3 yards per carry and it was enough to bury the BSHS defense.
Despite Davis' second TD of the night, the Braves remained behind by just two touchdowns when Wyandotte failed on the two-point conversion.
The Braves' offense bounced back with another nice drive and appeared poised to cut the lead to a single touchdown as the fourth quarter neared.
After reaching the Wyandotte 13-yard line, four straight passes went awry. The first fell incomplete with Wilson under pressure. The secon, to Jock in the end zone, was broken up. The next one would have been an easy score, but Jock slipped on the field's tall grass. The final pass -- on fourth-and-10 -- was intercepted.
The loss dropped the Braves to 2-6 on the season and 1-1 in district play. More importantly, it erased a golden opportunity for the team to play its way into the playoffs.
"Tonight we had a great opportunity for this team to get a feather in its cap and do something special and we didn't get it done," Kasselman said.
For more on the game, as well as a look ahead to Friday's must-win against Turner, see Page 8B.