Rematch of district title match has Bobcats focused on Pirates
Basehor-Linwood and Piper ended Class 4A football district play last season in dramatic fashion.
With less than 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Colin Murphy jumped into the air and caught a game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Leppke.
Basehor-Linwood took the game, 15-12, and captured the district championship.
“It was a fabulous game of two teams who were already in the playoffs,” BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said. “I think both teams were relaxed and played well. Sometimes the best games are played when teams have nothing to lose.”
While both teams undoubtedly remember last year’s game, this is a new season and both teams have dramatically different rosters.
For Piper, quarterback Jasper Sanders has graduated. Meanwhile Leppke, a four-year starter at quarterback, was one of 20 BLHS seniors who graduated off of last year’s roster, crafting the storyline of this year’s season-opener at 7 p.m. Friday at BLHS.
A level of familiarity exists between the two teams, but there is a lot of mystery surrounding the first game. On one hand, Hopkins and Piper coach Tom Radke didn’t have to exchange game films from last season. The teams already had exchanged them for the two previous opponents in preparation for last year’s game.
On the other hand, though, seniors graduate and underclassmen ascend up the depth chart, attempting to replace the departed players.
Coaches from both teams scouted the night-time scrimmages last week, but there was not much that could be gleaned from those practices, as neither team shows much of the playbook. Rather, it was an opportunity for the coaches to scout who will be filling particular positions.
Piper returns running back Thomas Ricco. The Pirates also return four linemen from last year’s team and have an experienced offensive line, Hopkins said.
Entering Friday’s opener, Hopkins said stopping the running game would be critical.
After three weeks of practice, the Bobcats are preparing to play the game and ready to begin the season.
“It has been a long time coming and we are ready to quit practicing against ourselves,” Hopkins said. “We are hopeful. We had some young kids emerge. We made some significant depth chart changes because of Thursday night. We had depth emerge from the scrimmage. We need depth to emerge; we believe the last two scrimmages helped a lot.”
Basehor-Linwood went 8-2 and won the Kaw Valley League championship in 2009.