Tigers bounce Bobcats from playoffs
Basehor-Linwood digs early hole, is unable to rally past Jefferson West
The Basehor-Linwood football team put together as good a season in 2009 as the school has ever seen, but it all came to a devastating end Tuesday night.
In a performance that was a microcosm of everything the Bobcats weren’t this year — turnover-prone, undisciplined at times and out of position defensively — they lost to Jefferson County West, 41-27, in the bidistrict round of the Class 4A state playoffs at BLHS.
“We knew going in this was a very evenly matched game, but we felt like if we didn’t make mistakes we’d win,” Bobcats coach Steve Hopkins said. “Well, we made mistakes, and we didn’t play as well as we can offensively, defensively or on special teams. It was kind of a bad night all around. I’m sure I coached very poorly tonight, I’m sure of that.”
Basehor received the ball first, and it used a balanced attack of runs by quarterback Brandon Leppke and running back Jesse Hiss, as well as short passes to receivers Ryan Murphy and Colin Murphy and tight end Ben Johnson to drive down the field. The drive stalled when a Leppke pass was picked off in the end zone, however.
The Basehor defense forced Jeff West to go three-and-out on its first possession without gaining a single yard. Two plays later, Leppke followed Steyr Stubenrauch’s block and popped to the outside for a 50-yard touchdown run. The extra point attempt was no good, but BLHS held a 6-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
It was at that point that everything fell apart. Jeff West’s Chance Higgins returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards. Four plays later, Austin Siess trotted into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
BLHS turned the ball over on the first play of its next drive, and one play later the Tigers were in the end zone again. This time, quarterback Alex Baker connected with Siess for a 23-yard strike and a 13-6 lead.
Jeff West tacked on two more touchdowns in the second quarter, while Basehor countered with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Leppke to tight end Ben Johnson.
The Tigers led 27-13 at halftime.
“(We did a lot of) things that we had not done before,” Hopkins said. “We felt like we had some things kind of nailed down, on kickoff for example, and they broke it to the 20. I don’t know that we ever had a short field, and we gave them three or four short fields. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Jeff West struck again on the first play of the third quarter when Siess took a reverse to the left, hit the sideline and sprinted 63 yards to the end zone. That gave the Tigers a 34-13 lead just 12 seconds into the second half.
After the teams swapped interceptions — Basehor’s came on fourth down and put the Bobcats on their own 1-yard line — BLHS was forced to punt and again gave Jeff West a very short field as it began its drive with first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. One play later, running back Ethan Mumaw darted into the end zone and stretched the lead to 41-13.
The Tigers didn’t score in the final 19:58 of the game, but the four-touchdown deficit was too much for the Bobcats to overcome.
Leppke connected with Colin Murphy for a 20-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Leppke then ran for the 2-point conversion and pulled BLHS within 41-21.
The Bobcats put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive on their next possession, which Leppke capped with a 16-yard touchdown run. That made the score 41-27 with 9:12 to go.
Basehor had two more shots to score, but one drive ended with an interception and another was halted as time expired.
BLHS turned the ball over four times while Jeff West never coughed up the ball. That ultimately was the difference in the game.
“Every mistake we made, they capitalized with a touchdown,” Hopkins said. “And they did not make any mistakes.”
Leppke finished the game with 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also completed 19 of 35 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Cole Bittel caught seven passes for 54 yards, Ryan Murphy had five catches for 81 yards, Colin Murphy had three catches for 41 yards and Johnson had three catches for 35 yards.
Baker completed nine of 12 passes for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Jeff West. Mumaw rushed 22 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Siess had four carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
BLHS ends its season with an 8-2 record. The Bobcats won the Kaw Valley League championship and the Class 4A District 2 title. They also tied for the most wins in a season in school history. Hopkins said those would be accomplishments this year’s team will be remembered for once the sting of the loss wears off.
“We’ll celebrate at a banquet and we’ll realize the legacy these kids left,” he said. “No team has ever been 8-2, and that might not sound like a lot in some programs, but that’s the best record in our school’s history and that group of kids deserves that.”