Basehor hangs tough, falls on Big Monday
Bobcats take lead early, but Braves soon pull away
Professional football usually has dibs on Monday Night Football, but due to tornadoes in the area Friday night, the Bonner Springs game at Basehor-Linwood was postponed and played Monday.
Basehor had a promising start to the game, but in the end could not answer with enough big plays of its own to prevent a stinging 35-14 defeat at the hands of its closest rivals. Basehor, like many other opponents of the Braves, could not match the speed of the talented senior tailbacks from Bonner, twins Jonathan and Jeremy Walker.
Jonathan Walker rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries, while Jeremy Walker accounted for 114 yards receiving and a touchdown of his own.
Both teams took awhile to get comfortable with playing on a Monday night, and it was evident by the first quarter coming to an end tied at zero.
"We talked to the kids about the change from Friday to Monday and how it might affect them," BSHS coach Lew Kasselman said. "I could see warming up that we were a little slow. We just didn't do the things we needed to do early. We just weren't focused."
On the first play of the second quarter the Bobcats sacked Bonner Springs quarterback Brandon Eastland on a fourth down play at midfield and took over on their own 49. After a run and two pass plays for moderate gains, Bobcats junior quarterback Brandon Leppke bobbled a low snap, stepped left and had nothing but open field in front of him, scrambling 34 yards into the end zone. After a 2-point conversion the Bobcats held an 8-0 advantage.
Later in the quarter the Braves seemed to wake up. Jonathan Walker ran for 15 yards, followed by a 21-yard scamper by Eastland to advance the ball into Bobcat territory. Walker capped off the drive when he took a handoff down the middle of the field, picked up a great block at the 25-yard line, juked left and turned on the afterburners and finally leaped over an outstretched tackler for a 42-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and the Basehor lead was whittled to 8-7.
"Coach had me working really hard in practice all week on running through the (tackling) dummies," Jonathan Walker said. "He wants me to run faster with the ball in my hands, and I think I did that tonight."
It looked like the Bobcats would hold their 1-point advantage going into the locker room at halftime, but the Bonner defense caused wide receiver Ben Zuk to fumble the ball at Basehor's own 35-yard line. The ball was scooped up by senior defensive back Luke Terrell, who scampered into the end zone for the touchdown, making the score 14-8 in favor of the Braves. Terrell benefited from a great block by senior Garron Wayne at the 5-yard line that allowed safe passage for the score.
After forcing Basehor to go three-and-out at the start of the third quarter, Bonner took possession at its own 41. It took all of one play to take a 20-8 lead. Jonathan Walker found the endzone again after receiving a handoff on a quick-hitting run play that took advantage of the blitzing Bobcat defense. Nobody touched him as he raced 59 yards. The Braves missed the extra point attempt and held on to a 12-point lead.
"At halftime we made a couple of adjustments to their blitz, which had been really effective," Kasselman said. "We tried some counter plays and misdirection to take advantage of the blitz. If you can get them hung up inside and take your speed to the outside you can get away from the defenders. If you can get by that first group you can hit some big plays."
Basehor scored at the start of the fourth quarter to make the score to 20-14. The Bobcats were aided by two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Braves totaling 30 yards. The Bobcats punched the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge by Leppke.
Leppke finished with 238 of the Bobcat's 267 yards of total offense - with 109 of that coming on the ground.
"Brandon Leppke is a great leader on the field for our football team," BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said. "He gets us into the right plays when we need to be because he understands the game so well. He made some good plays tonight and some tough runs, which we asked him to do."
The Braves wasted little time in getting that touchdown back. On the second play of the ensuing possession, Eastland play-faked, rolled right and released a perfect spiral that found a streaking Jeremy Walker for a 59-yard touchdown. The catch was his second of more than 50 yards for the game. After the extra-point, the score was 27-14 in favor of the Braves.
For Jeremy Walker, this was the first game of the season he was able to participate in. He sat out last week's opener due to a suspension dating back to last season.
"It felt good to get out there again. It took me awhile to get used to the speed of the game at first," he said. "At first everybody was kind of down because it was a Monday and nobody was playing hard, but in the second half we started to play together as a team."
With 4:11 remaining, Jonathan Walker put the game out of reach with a touchdown run of 23 yards. After a successful 2-point conversion, the score was 35-14.
"We were in the right position on several of Bonner's big plays - sometimes with more than one kid," Hopkins said. "We just weren't able to make the tackle."
The 1-1 Bobcats will host Mill Valley while the 2-0 Braves will travel to Lansing on Friday.