Bobcats roar past Bonner Springs

Paul Bartunek/Special to PrepsKC

By Ryan Wallace PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 1, 2016 - 8:45 AM

If any questions remained entering Friday night’s tussle at Bonner Springs as to whether Basehor-Linwood was indeed worthy of the 2016 hype, they were emphatically erased in a 45-16 victory at Bonner Springs on a chilly finale to September.

As has been the case so far this season, the early goings were largely dictated by Basehor’s stifling defense. Forcing three straight three-and-out punts before recovering a fumble at the Braves 14-yard line to start Bonner’s fourth offensive position, defensive coordinator Brian Lohafer’s unit applied constant pressure to junior quarterback Coleton Oakes.

“We’ve got a lot of fast guys on our defensive line and we’re all doing our own responsibility,” senior linebacker Chas Rollo stated after the win. “We’re not covering for others because we communicate. When you do what you’re supposed to, you’ll be successful and we have.”

“I think it fits our personnel very well,” head coach Rod Stallbaumer said of a defense that has only surrendered 40 total points on the year. “We’ve got some aggressive kids that maybe aren’t the biggest guys, but they’re physical and tough minded. Coach Lohafer’s been coaching this thing a long time too and he does a great job, but they’ve really bought in.”

With the opposing offense in check, senior Justin Phillips and the Bobcat’s attack profited from beneficial starting positions. Adding to the confusion for Bonner’s defense was the variety thrown by Basehor, as the game’s first four scores were scored by four different players.

Speedy junior receiver J.C. Watson paced the opening series with a 15-yard sweep before hauling in a 23-yard pass in the endzone from Phillips on a rollout.

After a short, 15-yard field goal from Parker Rusk made it 10-0 Basehor at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter, senior receiver Jackson Brimblecom starred on a third drive that resulted in a six-yard post pattern touchdown.  And not a minute later, Basehor again found a new focal point in senior Zach McKnight, catching a 14-yard, play-action bullet from Phillips to go up four scores.

“They got their butts chewed a little bit at half,” admitted first year Bonner Springs head coach LaDrew Murrell. “I think (slow starts) deals a little with a lack of confidence.”

“We’re young in the sense that we’re playing with a lot of guys who don’t have experience. So, we’ve got guys in place that are being asked to do new things and discover themselves on the football field.”

Down 31-0 to open the second half, Murrell’s group did respond well amidst such adversity. On Basehor’s first offensive session, the Braves defense responded with a fumble recovery that set up a 23-yard field goal to stop the shutout. A resilient Oakes also earned postgame praise from his coach for leading two more scoring drives in the second half versus a Bobcats defense that showed mental lapses.

“I was proud of how well we started but I think we lost focus,” said Stallbaumer. “We made a lot of mental mistakes in the second half. Hopefully we learned from that because if you can learn in a win, that’s always a good thing.”

“We have the make-up to be a pretty good football team, but we have to do a better job of correcting mistakes,” added Murrell, now 2-3 on the season and looking forward to more Kaw Valley competition. “We’re dealing with a lot of injuries and adversity but that’s prime time for someone else to step up and make a name for themselves. This can all be turned for the good and with the new playoff format, it really helps teams like us because, come Week 9, there won’t be a lot of teams that want to play us.”

For Basehor though, a veteran offensive line was able to fend off the far shot of a comeback, going to the ground with a backfield that consistently found gaps for big plays.

Once again a legitimate contender for the 4A-I crown, a date with 3-2 Lansing looms next for the Bobcats. Following a dramatic end to the 2015 campaign though, there’s little doubt this roster gets lost in accolades.

“Last year lingers a lot because we have motivational seniors who just want to be successful,” Rollo, who also rumbled for two touchdowns on the night as a running back, said.

“The leadership on this team right now is driven by a class that is very motivated,” continued Stallbaumer on the same subject of keeping momentum going. “So far, through five weeks, with every possible distraction you can think of, they’ve been able to not panic and stay focused. Our schedule doesn’t get any easier and we know it’s a whole different opponent on Friday, so I don’t think things will change.”