Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wristen: Playoff loss a lesson for Bobcats

November 11, 2010

Barely a week has passed, but it’s still hard to comprehend what happened.

How, exactly, did the Basehor-Linwood football team go from unbeaten juggernaut of the Kaw Valley League to first-round fodder for Sumner Academy in the Class 4A state playoffs? How did a season with so much promise go off the rails in the postseason?

The Bobcats only resembled themselves for one quarter — the third — when they whittled a 24-0 deficit to 24-22 before ultimately losing, 36-22.

The Bobcats struggled at times to finish drives in the red zone during the regular season, and that was the case during the first half against Sumner. They also dropped numerous passes and allowed too many big plays.

The lesson they should take from it is the same one they took from last year’s first-round playoff loss to Jefferson County West: Don’t point fingers. Instead, get tougher and improve.

Following that plan helped BLHS become a tougher football team this year despite losing a 20-member senior class from the 2009 season. Following that plan helped the Bobcats improve from an 8-2 club to 9-1 — the best record in school history. Following that plan also should help the Bobcats take the next step and make a serious postseason run next year.

As good as the 2010 Bobcats were, they have plenty of areas to improve.

It’s hard to criticize a defense that allowed so few points all season, but another year in strength and conditioning coach Ross Schwisow’s summer program will make the Bobcats stronger, faster and less likely to allow big plays to athletic teams such as Sumner.

Meanwhile, the high-powered offense will return most of its weapons. For this bunch, consistency will be key. In particular, following through in the red zone will be crucial to making a postseason run. Coach Steve Hopkins placed the blame on himself multiple times throughout the season for what he deemed to be poor play-calling in the red zone. It’s up to the coach to examine his playbook during the offseason, but it’s also up to the players to follow through and make routine blocks and catches. It’s a team game, after all, and the Bobcats have proven in recent years that they’re well aware that it took a collective effort to build the strong program they currently have — and it will take a collective effort for them to take additional steps forward.

As fans, it’s frustrating to see such a promising season end early. It’s even more disappointing for the kids and coaches in the locker room.

My hope is that the Bobcats will remember the many successes of this season and savor those accomplishments, but at the same time they must remember the frustration of that final loss and use it as the fuel for a serious playoff run in 2011.

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