BSHS coach pleased with squad’s 7-on-7 effort
Clanking weights rattled against each other, filling the air at the Bonner Springs YMCA as members of the Braves football team were up and training hours before their classmates were even thinking about getting out of bed this summer.
The athletes are pushing their bodies to get stronger and faster — and are really moving some iron.
Coach Lew Kasselman keeps a close watch on his stable of young players as they prepare for a season that is just about six weeks away from kicking off.
“Based on athletic ability and how they look without pads, we look all right,” said Kasselman.
Last week, the Braves concluded their annual 7-on-7 passing league — its 15th year. The league is noncontact and provides a good way for younger players to familiarize themselves with the complexity of the offensive and defensive schemes, as well as the speed required to compete at the varsity level.
Kasselman liked what he saw overall, but he also sees an opportunity for positions to be wide open going into practice with few exceptions.
“We had some young guys step up and do some good things at times,” said Kasselman. “We were missing a lot of guys — some of our top players, but some of the guys surprised me. I liked what they were able to do as far as running and catching the ball.”
Senior quarterback Brandon Eastland had a good start to the offseason, according to his coach.
“Eastland threw the ball very well,” Kasselman said. “He was able to get the ball into spots that weren’t very big at all. His big challenge is seeing the whole field, rather than just focusing on only part of it, which cost him at times last year.”
Eastland, who saw the first pass of his varsity career picked off and returned for a touchdown by Bishop Ward last season, grew up a lot during the rest of the season. He realized his limitations, but he was also able to capitalize on his strengths — which will be important for how well the Braves will do this year.
More responsibility will rest on the shoulders of Eastland in 2009. The Braves lost the playmaking abilities of Jonathan and Jeremy Walker, along with some experienced pass protectors, due to graduation. However, Kasselman thinks his confident quarterback is just the man for the job.
“(Brandon) and Max (Barren, a teammate) both went to a football camp at Youngstown State this year,” Kasselman said. “They were able to realize what it takes to step up their game to another level.”
Bonner Springs will have its first practice on at 12 a.m. Monday, Aug. 17, for midnight madness.
“The kids have to be accountable to each other,” Kasselman said. “We tell that to them all the time. My expectations are high for this team. We have made some changes that will really require attention to detail, so they guys really have to focus and learn how to be accountable to the team.”