Montemayor: No shortage of highlights this season
There’s not a player on Bonner Springs’ 2012 football team that suited up the last time the Braves defeated Basehor-Linwood. That last triumph was a 35-14 victory in 2008. Since then, this rivalry has been all Bobcats.
In having the upper hand the last three seasons, Basehor-Linwood has defeated the Braves by an average score of 52-22, last year’s 69-26 rout being the most decisive in recent memory.
It’s fitting then that it was that Sept. 23 game that marked the beginning of now-junior Jordan Jackson’s reign as starting quarterback for the Braves. At just 15 years old, Jackson led his team to a 6-2 mark as a starter. He returns to a lineup that may have its best chance in years to topple a Bobcats program accustomed to wearing the KVL crown in recent falls.
But this is all preseason chatter. Let’s move on to what may be a more appropriate task at this time: looking at what to watch for under the Friday night lights each week this season.
• Week 1, Aug. 31: Bonner Springs opens at Turner (4-5 in 2011), a team with a new coach and little to no film to study. Bonner Springs coach Lucas Aslin said this matchup could be dangerous in that it’s the first one out of the gates, on the road against a relative unknown. Last year, before Jackson took over at quarterback, Turner defeated the Braves, 31-14. From that team returns junior tailback Paul Berry, who averaged almost five yards per carry last year. The Bears also return a number of experienced linemen. This one’s going to be a big test early for the Braves.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, open at home against Bishop Ward (0-9 in 2011), also with a new coach, who will look to emphasize the run. The Cyclones didn’t score more than 14 points in a game last season, while allowing more than 46 points per game. This should be a good opportunity for new quarterbacks Tanner Garver and Zac Hevel to get into a groove and start the season with confidence.
• Week 2, Sept. 7: Bonner Springs again hits the road to meet Lansing (5-5 in 2011), a run-heavy team that the Braves matched up against in 7-on-7 this summer. Road victories against Turner and Lansing would be as big a way to start the season as a team could have.
Prepare for fireworks in Basehor as two-time district champs Piper (7-4 in 2011) bring to town an explosive offense that hit its stride last October. If this becomes a shootout, we’ll find out pretty early what Hevel and Garver can provide behind center. Tight end Ben Johnson and running back Drew Potter will make the difference if they can wear down Piper’s defense.
• Week 3, Sept. 14: The Bobcats travel to Mill Valley in a rematch of the game that decided the KVL last year. Entering 2012, the Jaguars are favorites to win the league. A Basehor-Linwood victory in Shawnee would return the Bobcats to pole position to repeat.
• Week 4, Sept. 21: Of course if the Bobcats are tripped up against Mill Valley, returning to the win column will have to take place at Lansing, who will be hungry for redemption after 2011’s 43-21 loss.
How will Bonner Springs senior linebacker Matt Call (50 total tackles in 2011) complement a defense anchored by 6-8, 265-pound lineman Tyler Howell this year? Last year’s explosive offense counterbalanced a Bonner Springs defense that allowed 33 points per game. At Piper in week four, the Braves’ defense will face its biggest test until…
• Week 5, Sept. 28: Last year, Mill Valley overwhelmed the Braves in Shawnee in the season’s second game. Rivals.com’s seventh-ranked prospect Skyler Windmiller returns for Mill Valley — he threw for 384 yards and 5 touchdowns against the Braves last year. Of course, Bonner Springs looks much different now than it did last September. How much of a difference will the home crowd play?
• Week 6, Oct. 5: I’m trying to choose my words carefully, hoping they print spicy and savory. Because come Oct. 5, I may have to eat them. Here goes nothing: This year’s Braves-Bobcats showdown in Bonner Springs will be the closest contest between the two teams in recent memory. And if the Braves can land the opening salvo, that and a little bit of home crowd magic, may prove the difference.
• Week 7, Oct. 12: Both teams hit the buses for a pair of late-season road trips. Basehor-Linwood heads an hour west to Jefferson West (4-5 in 2011) while Bonner Springs meets De Soto (6-4 in 2011), a team that has reached the playoffs in four consecutive years but replaces 11 graduated players.
• Week 8, Oct. 19: For the first time, Bonner Springs will host St. James Academy (4-5 in 2011), a program hungry to add its own trophy to an athletic department filled with them. The Thunder could be a dangerous late-season draw in that it returns nine offensive and nine defensive starters.
Last year, Colin Murphy found Garver in the end-zone with three minutes left to rally past Perry-Lecompton (7-3 in 2011) and secure a perfect regular season record. The Kaws must replace their starting quarterback and running back, whom between them accounted for more than 3,700 total yards. Of course, the Bobcats know a thing or two about replacing a key cog — Murphy racked up more than 3,000 total yards himself. Will these two new-look programs still go down to the wire?
• Week 9, Oct. 25: The regular season ends on a Thursday with each team possessing home-field (and nearly every other) advantage against their opponents. Basehor-Linwood hosts Tonganoxie (1-8 in 2011), who is rebuilding under a new head coach. Bonner Springs will host a team in Spring Hill that has gone 6-12 the last two seasons.