Bonner Springs upended by BLHS
Basehor scores five first-half touchdowns in victory over Braves
Basehor For three years, Bonner Springs football coach Lew Kasselman watched from the opposing sideline as Basehor-Linwood quarterback Brandon Leppke scrambled to pick up yardage with limited blocking and minimal success.
Whether the Bobcats won or lost, Kasselman knew Leppke was a player.
On Friday night, Kasselman coached against Leppke for the fourth straight year. This time, the BLHS senior came armed with a full arsenal of talent. Surrounded by an experienced offensive line and a pair of towering sophomore wide receivers, Leppke led the Bobcats to a 44-21 rout of the Braves at BLHS.
“The quarterback is a hard-nosed runner,” Kasselman said. “They’ve got a lot of good athletes and they put a lot of people at the point of attack. And when you’ve got big people at the point of attack, it’s hard to stop them.”
The big people Kasselman referenced were twin receivers Ryan and Colin Murphy. Both stand 6 feet, 4 inches, and proved to be a load. While Leppke was dangerous on the run, he simply had to throw the ball in the Murphys’ direction and they routinely hauled it in for a big gain.
BLHS junior Nathan Quigley returned the opening kickoff 47 yards and set up a four-play scoring drive. A 2-yard quarterback keeper by Leppke gave Basehor a 7-0 lead just 94 seconds into the game.
Bonner Springs went three-and-out on its opening possession, but the Braves claimed some momentum of their own as an interception by BSHS senior Jake Barren set up the Braves’ first score. Senior quarterback Brandon Eastland hit sophomore Jourdaine Smallwood on a slant pattern for a 17-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but BSHS was within 7-6 with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
Basehor’s next drive was snuffed out by another turnover as junior Nick Carver picked off a Leppke pass on the goal line, but the Braves were unable to turn it into any points.
Basehor’s fourth drive proved to be the turning point. Leppke carried the ball on four straight plays, the final one for a 1-yard touchdown. He then threw to senior Jake Potts for the 2-point conversion and gave BLHS a 15-6 lead with 2:07 left in the opening quarter.
The Bobcats were just getting started. Bonner Springs turned the ball over on three of its last four possessions of the first half, and Basehor turned three of them into touchdowns. The first was a 1-yard run by Leppke, followed by a 27-yard pass from Leppke to a well-covered Colin Murphy for a 27-yard touchdown. A fumble recovery by senior Bobby Courtney with 1:21 left in the half led to a 46-yard touchdown pass from Leppke to Ryan Murphy that stretched the Bobcats’ lead to 37-6 at halftime.
Basehor coach Steve Hopkins credited his offensive line (left tackle Caleb Johnson, left guard Justin Nichols, center Zach Ross, right guard Jacob Bennett, right tackle David Wynn and rotating guard Chris Giomi) with creating wide-open space for Leppke to run and also for buying him time to throw deep.
“They deserve a lot of credit,” Hopkins said. “Caleb Johnson is the only junior, the rest are seniors. We rotate our three guards and none of those guys play defense. And that means our defensive line doesn’t have to play offense. What a luxury. That’s why we wore them out so much in the second quarter.”
Basehor struck again early in the third quarter when Leppke found Ryan Murphy for a 16-yard touchdown. Courtney’s extra point made it 44-6 with 8:12 left in the quarter.
Bonner Springs finally built some momentum after that. The Braves used a big kickoff return by junior Robert Moore to set up a six-play, 46-yard scoring drive. Senior Max Barren carried the ball four times during the drive, which also was aided by a pass interference penalty. Barren scored untouched on a 15-yard run up the middle. He then ran for the 2-point conversion, bringing the Braves within 44-14.
BSHS turned the ball over twice during the second half, but its defense held firm and kept Basehor from rebuilding the lead.
The Braves tacked on a late touchdown when sophomore Arlando Young recovered a fumble and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. Senior Jacob Slattery kicked the extra point and trimmed the score to 44-21 with 2:22 remaining in the game. That was as close as the Braves would get.
Although he was disappointed by the loss, Kasselman gave credit to the Bobcats for their solid performance and also praised his own team for battling back during the second half.
“It was tough for us to catch up,” Kasselman admitted. “I thought our kids played well in the second half. We came out and did a good job. We’re growing. We’ve got a lot of young kids that are playing, and they’re learning.”
Hopkins said he was proud of his team for staying consistent in back-to-back weeks, but he noted that he felt fortunate to have played the young Braves early in the season.
“They’re going to be a lot better later in the year,” Hopkins said. “This is the right time to play Bonner. I feel good that we got to play them now, because the more they learn to use some of their other weapons the more (dangerous they’re going to be).”
Max Barren was the most effective weapon for the Braves on Friday as he rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. The Basehor defense gave Eastland trouble throughout the evening as he operated under steady pressure and completed seven of 18 passes for 88 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions.
The Bobcats piled up 501 yards of total offense, led by 168 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 22 carries by Leppke. Ryan Murphy caught three passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns and Colin Murphy had four catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Chandler King led BLHS with 11 tackles, Derek Shandy had 10 tackles and Tim Stephens had two interceptions.
Basehor (2-0) next plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Mill Valley (0-2). Bonner Springs (0-2) will play host to Lansing (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in the Braves’ homecoming game.