Murrell was two-sport star for BLHS
This fall Basehor-Linwood had its very own two-sport star. From football to soccer, this athlete played in every game, practiced for one and then quickly ran to the other, and even played in two games during one hectic night.
But unlike Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, Matthew Murrell didn't wow with his size, speed, or athleticism. This Bobcat star's savvy in goal for the soccer team, and his bazooka leg, helped him to transcend team lines and make it as the football team's kicker.
Murrell joined the football team at the end of his junior year. Coach Dave Svoboda asked the soccer standout if he wanted to punt for the team. Murrell agreed to try it. He started going to workouts and attended a camp and practiced over the summer.
Murrell had played soccer and football all his life, but was forced to quit football when he moved to town because the sports played during the same time.
It had been two years since he last played. Murrell was handed the starting kicking job for a team that would wind up being playoff-bound.
"I was nervous, because I always want to do the best for the team," Murrell said. "It was nerve wracking because I didn't want to let the team down."
Murrell proved to be a quick study, progressing steadily throughout the season, and was frequently kicking the ball into the end zone on kickoffs near the end of the year.
"Coach Courtney had helped me in the aspects of kicking and approaching the ball," Murrell said. "Coach Hopkins gave me confidence, because I know he trusted me. The team too, because I know they believed in me."
This Bobcat quickly understood the importance of the often overlooked kicking position. Even in high school, where the kicker is seldom asked to kick a field goal, extra points have a much higher level of significance and a kicker who can regularly cause touchbacks on kickoffs becomes a valuable instigator of the field position game.
"Any sport that I play in, I want to succeed," Murrell said. "Even if it is just kicking for the football team, it gave me the confidence I could help the team--even if it was just one kick, as opposed to being the goaltender where I had a huge influence on the game."
On Thursday, Oct. 25, Murrell was given the unique opportunity to experience games in both sports--back to back.
The soccer Regional Championship against Maranatha was scheduled for 5 p.m. and the last regular season game of the football season, against Piper, was scheduled for 7 p.m. Murrell talked to Bobcat football coach Steve Hopkins, who told him to take care of soccer first.
Murrell planned to play in the duration of both games but those plans hit a snag when the soccer game amazingly went into the fourth overtime before the Bobcats pulled it out, 1-0.
After playing the lead role to an impressively prolonged shutout in goal, Murrell spent a few minutes celebrating with his Bobcat soccer teammates and then hustled to his father's Yukon Denali.
It was fortunate his father drove an SUV--Murrell would need the room. He changed out of his soccer uniform and into his football pads in the car, and arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the first half ended, where he promptly retook his position as the Bobcat's kicker.
"It felt pretty cool to play two games in one night," Murrell said. "I just really wanted to do what was best for the team. If that meant playing two games to help out, that's what I did."
It didn't take long for Murrell to become as loyal to the football team as he was the soccer squad this season.
"It is phenomenal how things have changed," Murrell said. "A lot of it goes to our attitudes. We learned last year that we can compete against other schools in sports. I think the success at Basehor-Linwood has just begun. We have great coaches and now have a winning mentality."
Murrell is thinking about college as the seasons of both of his teams have come to an end. He wants to play soccer at the next level and wouldn't mind kicking in football on the side.
The senior wants to be an art teacher and major in sports medicine.
He can't help himself. He's accustomed to spreading his focus between two pursuits.
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