BLHS soccer eyes big year in Knipp’s second season
Bobcats hope summer conditioning, offseason workouts pay dividends
Basehor-Linwood soccer players have been preparing diligently for the upcoming season, hoping that renewed work ethic off the field will lead to more victories on it.
The Bobcats had a busy summer training for the season as 20 players attended offseason workouts. In addition, 85 percent of the players attended summer weights, which is a 14 percent increase from last summer. With the work put in, second-year coach Austin Knipp said the team could be improved this season.
“We have a really great bunch of hardworking kids that have put the time and effort in this summer to make this season a very promising one, both on the soccer field and in the weight room,” he said.
The Bobcats’ hopes begin with a talented group of seniors.
Midfielder Dakota Foster is expected to be the Bobcats’ primary distributor, and he also has displayed an accurate touch on his shots from long range.
“We expect him to be a key leader on the team,” Knipp said.
The Bobcats are hoping Trey Kincheloe will evolve as a goal-scoring forward because BLHS will need to replace its top two scorers from 2010 — Patrick Rutherford and Symon Seaton — who both graduated. Lane Young is expected to play forward alongside Kincheloe.
On defense, Basehor-Linwood has the luxury of an experienced goalkeeper with Russell Clark returning for his senior season. He is expected to anchor the back line of defense for the Bobcats.
“He’s only gotten better this summer with hard work and focus, and we expect him to do great things for us and the defense,” Knipp said.
Deric Brannan also returns for his senior season after serving as a defensive specialist last year.
“He’s learned and grown a lot over the offseason, and we see nothing but great things to come for him,” Knipp said.
In addition, the Bobcats’ other seniors will be Steven Coy, Marcus Box, Zach Klover, Brett Selanders and Spencer Himpel.
“The leadership has been good, but it can be a lot better,” Knipp said. “Once the final rosters are made, we’ll have individual meetings with the kids expressing the role we want them to have.”
What Knipp likes most about this team is that everyone has something they can contribute.
“We have a very solid group of players, and I think that we’ll push each other to where we want to go this season — and that is state,” he said. “I feel that our biggest strength is the solidness of the team. We have a great group of forwards, midfielders and defenders. I don’t see us dropping off at any position when we sub in new players.”
Knipp is in his second season with the team, and he said he feels a bit more pressure after guiding the program to a 10-5-2 record in his first year.
“I actually feel more uncomfortable, because I feel I have more expectations for myself and the team system in general,” he said. “Last year was more of a ‘feel things out and see what I needed to do as a coach to better prepare the team in the coming seasons,’ and this year is more of the start of the system. So in a way, it is nerve racking to see how it’ll end up, but it is also so great that I’m doing what I love at such a young age, and for that I’m so thankful for the opportunity I have been blessed with.”
Basehor-Linwood begins the season Friday against Maranatha Academy. The junior varsity team plays at 4:30 and the varsity game follows around 6 p.m.
The Bobcats begin Kaw Valley League play on Thursday, Sept. 1, at Tonganoxie. Knipp said the top teams to watch for in the KVL will include Lansing, Turner, Bonner Springs and Mill Valley.
“I do believe we have a good chance to contend for league again this year, but I also could see teams such as Tonganoxie and Piper being in the pack as well,” Knipp said. “This is why we must take each game very seriously.”