Bobcat football team returns 20 starters
Preseason optimism surrounding Basehor-Linwood's chances for success in the Kaw Valley League come down to a numbers game.
Basehor-Linwood coaches are hoping that with 20 of 22 starters returning this year, the team can rebound from a 2-7 season last year, including an 0-7 performance in the KVL.
Last year's squad was young and inexperienced. In the off-season players worked on the fundamentals, specifically blocking and tackling. With such a large number of players returning, the team is well-acclimated to the offensive plays and defensive schemes.
The team did have one major personnel loss. Kevin Marshall, Bobcats defensive player of the year for the last two seasons, graduated. He played all over the field, switching from middle linebacker to outside linebacker to defensive end.
"Our other returning players have all played where he was at one point or another in the 2006 season," Hopkins said. "However, he alone accounted for 14 sacks and five forced fumbles last year, so we definitely need to find multiple playmakers on defense."
The offensive line should be a strength for the team this season.
"We have three returning starters on the offensive line who have started every year since they were sophomores: Swede Johnson, Ethan Douglas and Austin Hunter," Hopkins said. "Swede and Ethan have also started nearly every game on defense for the past two years. These young men are the core of our defense and offense."
In the backfield, the Bobcats return both Tyler Miles and Chandler Schaake, who each started about half the games last season.
Travis Inlow is a key wide receiver. A speedster, Inlow is a threat on reverses and receptions. Schaake will join him in the defensive backfield. Schaake, the team's second leading tackler on the team last year from the safety spot, led the team with four interceptions in 2006.
Andrew Stueckemann is a returning starter at middle linebacker. Newcomer Jake Johnson, a senior who has never played football before, and Anthony Pierce, a junior who also plays defensive back, join him on defense. Kyle Slater is a likely starter at cornerback, with Tyler Miles and Bobby Courtney rounding out the defensive backfield.
On offense, Brandon Leppke is the starting quarterback.
"Brandon is only a sophomore, but he started the last 7 games and played in all 9 last year," Hopkins said. "He is very familiar with our offense and has been asked to do much more this year in regard to calling the game, managing the clock, completing passes and being a threat to run the ball.
Leppke should receive help from a solid running attack.The defensive schemes should vary.
"Defensively, we are committed to a multiple front to stop the run, and pressure the passer," Hopkins said. "We believe we must take away what teams do best, which in most cases, is run the ball. Rarely will we start by defending the pass. The coach said his team's goal is to improve every day and the Bonner game is the first step in that process.
"We are a team which has not had success, so getting off to a good start helps," he said.