Monster first half leads Mill Valley to victory
Going into last Friday's game against the powerful Mill Valley Jaguars, Basehor-Linwood football coach Steve Hopkins knew his team would have to play almost perfectly to win. By the end of the first quarter it was obvious that wasn't going to happen.
The Bobcats fumbled twice deep in their own territory early in Friday's game. The Jaguars turned both turnovers into touchdowns, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and putting the Bobcats in a hole they couldn't dig out of. Mill Valley would win 42-8, sending the Bobcats to 0-2.
"They are a far superior team, let me just say that first," Hopkins said after the game. "Now, having said that, we can't fumble the ball and give them a short field. We had to play a superior game to compete tonight and we couldn't do that."
Basehor-Linwood forced a three-and-out on Mill Valley's first possession, but then had to punt themselves after three plays, giving the Jaguars good field position. Mill Valley started at the BLHS 47 yard-line and needed just six plays to score the game's first touchdown.
Things went from bad to worse for BLHS on the ensuing kickoff when returner Travis Inlow was crunched and coughed up the ball at his own 21. Three running plays later the Jaguars had scored again.
The Bobcats got a safe touchback on the next kickoff, but didn't have the ball very long. Running back Bruce Tyner, a junior transfer playing in his first varsity game, ran the ball twice to the 27 to set up a third-and-short. But senior Kevin Marshall fumbled the ball while fighting for the first down.
Four plays later Mill Valley quarterback Trey Scott bootlegged right and went in untouched from the five yard-line. In the first half the Jaguars started five drives in Bobcat territory and four of them went for touchdowns.
After Scott's touchdown the Bobcats mounted their one successful drive of the game. They grinded out five first downs behind a multi-pronged rushing attack that included freshman quarterback Brandon Leppke. Hopkins said he had intended to get Leppke in against Bonner Springs, but had never quite found the right opportunity.
Leppke was right in the middle of Basehor-Linwood's one shining moment against Mill Valley. The freshman finished off the drive by throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass over the middle to tight end Jacob Schierbaum. It was the same play that the Braves had used a week earlier to pick up a key first down against BLHS.
"It's the tight end dump-off, everyone has it in their offense," Hopkins said. "I think Scott Ogilvie was just as open as Jacob, but he ended up making the key block."
After Schierbaum's score Marshall ran for a two-point conversion and the Bobcats were, for the moment, back in the game.
"I felt pretty good," Schierbaum said. "I knew we had a long ways to go and a tough battle ahead, but I thought we could pull it out."
The Jaguars had other ideas. Their all-league running back, Justin Woods, broke free for his longest run of the game on the next possession, carrying the ball up the middle and then cutting to the left sideline. None of the Bobcats could catch the speedy back and he ran for a 30-yard touchdown.
Basehor-Linwood's next possession ended poorly, as Mill Valley sniffed out the Bobcats' fake punt and took over at the BLHS 42. From there the Jags needed just four plays for Woods to run it in again, this time from 18 yards out. Woods scored a third touchdown just after halftime to put Mill Valley up 42-8 and ice the game.
Leppke ended up playing the entire second half after throwing for the Bobcats only touchdown, but couldn't duplicate the success he had on that drive. Hopkins said he took out starter Ben Zuk just to get a look at Leppke and then decided to leave the freshman in after the early touchdown. He also praised Zuk's play defensively at linebacker.
Although the final score wasn't pretty, the Bobcats did get a look at a few new offensive weapons. Tyner, who came from Sumner Academy, ran six times for seven yards, one of many Bobcats backs who found little room to run against Mill Valley. Hopkins said the junior was disappointed in himself, though he had no reason to be.
Leppke was the Bobcats' leading rusher, carrying 16 times for 50 yards. He also went 2 for 6 passing for 28 yards and a touchdown. Tyner and Leppke figure to be a part of the Bobcats' offensive plans the rest of the season.
"They're going to help us," Schierbaum said. "Bruce has speed like I haven't seen and now we know we have backups who can step up and fill in without missing a beat."
Basehor-Linwood will try for its first win of the season Friday when the Bobcats travel to Perry to face the Perry-Lecompton Kaws, winners of their first two games. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
For a preview of the Bobcats' battle with Perry-Lecompton, see Page 6B.