In just the second year of the United Kansas Conference, the players and coaches of the teams in the six-school league have started to develop some familiarity with one another. While it often takes more than a couple of years to develop a true sense of a great rivalry, the UKC figures to have one thanks to the De Soto and Basehor-Linwood football teams.
The Wildcats kept their hopes of a perfect season alive on Friday when they traveled to Basehor-Linwood for a 28-16 victory. It was Basehor-Linwood that handed the Wildcats their first loss of 2018 when the Bobcats earned a 35-27 road win over DHS.
It’s unfortunate that these two teams won’t get the chance to square off again this postseason with the Wildcats being in Class 5A and Bobcats being in Class 4A, but there will be plenty of film watched from last Friday’s matchup that will be used while preparing for the final two weeks of the regular season and the playoffs. De Soto coach Brian King and Basehor-Linwood coach Rod Stallbaumer were both quick to attest to that following Friday’s game.
“This will be good film to expose some things we need to improve on, for sure,” King said. “Playing good teams like this is a good start. We’ve got a lot of things on film that will use in practice. We need to need make sure we’re staying healthy, we’re improving every week and that are kids aren’t content with this win. And I know they’re not. We need to keep improving every week.”
Stallbaumer reminded his squad that the 2018 win over the Wildcats was crucial to what ended up being a run to the state semifinals. Although Friday’s loss was a tough one to swallow with building a 9-0 first quarter lead before giving up 28 unanswered points, Stallbaumer told his players that the 2019 loss could be just as valuable as the 2018 win if they chose to learn from it.
“That’s why you like to play these types of games. De Soto is a very well-run program,” Stallbaumer said. “Coach King does a great job. It’s a measuring stick game all the time. We get a chance to see ourselves make some mistakes and learn to correct them. It was a playoff-type atmosphere, so we’ve kind of got a gauge of where we need to get to in order to win playoff games.”
The Bobcats have some work to do in order host at least one home game in the playoffs. With two regular season games left against Atchison and Schlagle, the Bobcats are 3-3 and would be the No. 9 seed in the 4A East bracket if the playoffs started today.
The Wildcats will conclude their regular season against Shawnee Heights and Pittsburg. De Soto has the inside track at the No. 1 seed in the 5A East, as they have a point differential edge of plus 11 over St. Thomas Aquinas. The Wildcats and Saints are the lone undefeated teams remaining in the 5A East standings.
As De Soto and Basehor-Linwood wrap up their second respective seasons in the UKC, they’re both hopeful that Friday’s contest will be beneficially come postseason time. For now, film study will have to build up the rivalry between the two powerhouse programs. But you can rest assured that the 2020 matchup between the Wildcats and Bobcats will be another good one.