BLHS football team won district crown, playoff game
A mid-season rise by the Basehor-Linwood football team ended abruptly when the team lost to Holton, 38-0, on Nov. 3.
Despite the loss, the team's progress throughout the season was pronounced. After beginning the year with a gauntlet--first opponent Bonner Springs' regular season record was 8-1, Mill Valley's 6-3, Perry's 8-1, Clinton's 8-2 and Lansing' 8-1--the players developed and learned how to win ballgames.
"The loss against Lansing was especially tough because we felt we played well enough to win, but they made a couple of big plays and were able to win," Hopkins said. "After that loss, we really came together as a team, and played with a renewed commitment."
The Bobcats went on to win four of the next five games.
After losing the final regular season game of the year against Piper, when the Bobcats had already wrapped up the district championship, Hopkins thought the team played its best game of the year against Eudora--a come-from-behind win.
The season ending loss to Holton could be attributed to a multitude of factors.
"We are not yet able to compete with Holton with only three days to prepare for their offense and their program is better than ours right now," Hopkins said.
Still, Hopkins said he was pleased by the team's success at the end of the year that included winning the district and its first playoff game. Off-season work started Tuesday.
Hopkins said he expected excellent participation in the offseason program.
The good news for BLHS is this: more talent is on the way.
"We also had excellent success in our middle school teams -- both were undefeated for the first time in school history, but more importantly our numbers were excellent and our staff at the middle school is now installing our offensive and defensive systems from the seventh grade on," Hopkins said. "This will pay off greatly down the road. Our middle school coach Chad Harvey and his staff have laid an excellent foundation for future success at the varsity level."
Hopkins said the varsity team's senior leadership and subsequent team unity were the two things he will remember most about the season. The seniors chose the acronym P.O.W.E.R. for their goal, which stood for: Preparation and off season commitment; One team working together; Weight room and Work ethic; Effort and Enthusiasm every day; and Reaching for the top.
Hopkins said a void has to be filled with the team losing 14 seniors. The team had only had eight in 2004; 11 in 2005 and just four in 2006.
"As a coaching staff we are already looking at not just new players, but new schemes and styles of defense and offense to take advantage of those returning," Hopkins said. "We must continue to focus on stopping other team's running game as that is the first priority. We will always focus first on defense. On offense, we must score more points, and that will involve better execution and more diversity in our offense. We will have several returning skill players, but obviously lose four senior offensive linemen, so that will be a huge emphasis as we build for next season."
The team had its end of the year meeting last Tuesday. The Bobcat's banquet will be Sunday, Dec. 9.
Hopkins has had meetings with all returning players to discuss their goals for next season.
"We lose quality seniors and the younger athletes understand they need to work even harder in order for the program to improve," Hopkins said.
When asked for his initial thoughts on next year's team, it was clear Hopkins' eye was already trained on the future.
He acknowledged a difficult opening slate that begins with Santa Fe Trail, the only Class 4A school in the first six games and then Bonner Springs, Mill Valley, Turner, Washington and Lansing before district play begins.
"The biggest task we face is our early season schedule includes five class 5A schools from our league and in the nonconference in the first six games, so we may face an uphill struggle initially," he said.
When that portion of the year is done, they can look at districts.
"Our district then is Tonganoxie, Ward and Piper, all of which will be solid 4A teams, and we will focus once again on improving all season and being prepared to play our best football when district play begins. Our overall goal never changes -- we want this program to compete for a state championship, so we are working toward that ultimate goal."