Bobcats can clinch playoff spot Thursday on senior night
In an effort to get his team better prepared for Friday night’s must-win game against Perry-Lecompton, coach Steve Hopkins pitted all the first stringers against each other in practice.
Following last week’s loss to Jefferson West, Basehor-Linwood needed to get itself into win-or-go-home mode because this could have been the Bobcats’ last meaningful game of the season.
So this week, instead of practicing against the practice squad, it was Ben Johnson vs. Drew Potter, Andrew Lillich vs. Nick Chaney. Anything to give this team a physicality and intensity boost. It seemed to have worked as Basehor-Linwood knocked off Perry-Lecompton, 29-14. Considering other happenings around the league, this was Basehor’s night.
“We talked about needing to win by 13, but we also said the key thing is we must win or nothing else matters,” Hopkins said. “The preparation mental aspect we had this week will be identical next week.”
The Bobcats came into the night aiming to get the 13-point differential, but Tonganoxie ended up beating Jefferson West, 9-7. On Friday, the two teams that win their district matchups make the playoffs.
Even with the dominant victory, Basehor-Linwood looked far from perfect. On their first drive, Basehor-Linwood pounded the ball to the one-yard line before senior Tanner Garver fumbled. After a scoreless opening quarter, the game changed drastically on a third-and-21 when senior Drew Potter caught a 24-yard pass down the sidelines for a first down. Junior Cory McCleary had the first of his two fumble recoveries on the ensuing drive and Garver rebounded with a rushing touchdown of his own.
“We were making play after play and we were just saying we weren’t tired, they’re more tired than us,” Potter said. “We just kept making the plays.”
The Kaws scored right before halftime to make it 12-6 but couldn’t capitalize while the Bobcats began to break off big plays. Garver took another keeper for a touchdown in the third quarter and Potter busted off a back-breaking 34-yard touchdown with two minutes left in the game. Potter finished with 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Garver led with 15 total tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.
Perry-Lecompton couldn’t score on its final drive as if Basehor-Linwood played like its season depended on it, keeping the 13-point spread. The only downfall to all this, Hopkins said, is the scheduling. Because of the condensed schedule next week, the one where only 3A and 4A schools play three games in nine days, the Bobcats can’t have high-intensity practices as they did this week. Hopkins was openly concerned about playing Tonganoxie on Thursday, with playoffs on Tuesday and Saturday.
“That’s not physically healthy and what we know about concussions now, it’s ludicrous,” he said. “We’ve asked the state to look at different alternatives because that’s terrible to do to young men.”
The Bobcats have just survived an elimination game and will have another chance to do the same next week, though Hopkins wants to clean up the turnovers and penalties that cost the team points.
“Things like that we just can’t do next week,” he said.