Wristen: Aslin brings swagger back to Bonner Springs football
It was clear from the first day of practice at Bonner Springs High School that the 2011 football season would be different.
Every football coach brings his own style and personality to the sport, and first-year BSHS coach Lucas Aslin was no different. Young and energetic, Aslin unleashed his booming bark early and often that first day. Players lined up for warm-up stretches, and Aslin demanded they follow his lead.
With each stretch, Aslin clapped his hands, slapped them on his thighs and changed the beat. Players were expected to keep up.
“That’s the one thing I’ve always felt about coaching,” Aslin said. “I’m a younger coach, and I may not always know as much as some of the other guys who have the experience, but I’ve always felt that I could bring energy and try to be a positive influence to the kids.”
Matching Aslin’s energy and intensity wasn’t going to be easy, the Braves quickly learned, but they soon learned that if they mimicked it on a daily basis, good things would happen.
“One thing I preached to them at camp was that you may not always know what you’re doing today, but you can always bring energy and run around fast,” he said.
The Braves fed off of Aslin’s energy during the season-opener, and it paid off with an upset victory against Topea Seaman — an opponent that had flattened BSHS during each of the two previous seasons.
When they didn’t show the same spark during the first half against Mill Valley, the Braves paid the price with a lopsided loss. The same thing happened against Turner.
Basehor-Linwood and Gardner-Edgerton were the only opponents that were simply bigger, stronger and significantly more experienced than the Braves this season.
In week five of the season, a combination of elements collided that sparked the Braves on a five-game winning streak. Players grew comfortable with the coaches’ instructions and were put in the most beneficial positions, and the schedule also became more favorable. The most important factor, however, was that the Braves collectively adopted Aslin’s personality. On both offense and defense, Aslin constantly marches up and down the BSHS sideline barking out instructions and encouragement to his team.
“It’s pretty taxing sometimes,” Aslin said. “You’re tired, my voice kills me … but the kids respond to it. If you expect them to play hard and have energy in practice and then you just stand around and don’t do it, they notice. That’s the one thing I like to do. That’s as close to playing as I felt like I could get again.”
As a coach, Aslin isn’t able to strap on the pads and go make tackles — although he made it clear that he would if allowed to do so. In place of pads, there’s fight in his voice and an enthusiastic bounce in his step.
By the end of the season, those same traits — fight and bounce — were displayed by the Braves each week on the field. They showcased it in trampling Bishop Ward and Tonganoxie, and they embraced it down to the last drop in a thrilling victory against previously unbeaten Schlagle. From there, they truly took it to heart in seizing control early in routs of Washington and Lansing.
Among the numerous accomplishments of year one of the Aslin Era at BSHS were a 6-4 record, a third-place finish in the Kaw Valley League, a district championship and a Class 5A state playoff berth.
Perhaps Aslin’s finest accomplishment this season was the re-installation of some swagger. He brought it from day one of practice, and some of his players resisted it for a while. Once they bought in, however, Bonner Springs’ season — and perhaps the future of the program — was transformed.