Three BLHS teams playing in Miege league to prepare for 2017 campaign

With only 10 weeks remaining until the first, official game of the 2017 boys’ soccer season – and seven from the first day of practice – the Basehor Linwood Bobcats are going at it hard this summer to prepare for a hoped for stellar encore.

A year ago, the Bobcats wrapped up a historic season with a run to the Class 4A-I state title match, which it lost 1-0 in overtime to Bishop Miege.

Now, having to fill some holes from that record-breaking Bobcat squad, the Bobcats find themselves on the pitch at Bishop Miege this summer for weekly jaunts in the champion’s summer league which sees three BLHS team competing in hopes of improving.

The games are played on the Stags’ football field and the field Is cut in half to make for a shorter pitch of play and to allow for two games to go on simultaneously.

Austin Knipp, a BLHS alum from the Class of 2007, has returned to Basehor to coach the Bobcats for a second stint and takes over for the departed Erik Jones who is now coach at Gardner-Edgerton. 

“I always wanted to coach under him to learn something from someone else,” Knipp said. “It never hurts getting someone else’s feedback, coaching style and see how they handle different situations. He left the program in good shape. I am thankful for it, because it makes it slightly easier for me, but no matter what season it is, it’s always a challenge one way or another.”

The players like the short pitch that allows for players to have to move quicker in space and learn to connect quicker as defenders are on top of the ball much faster thanks to the pinched area.

“I feel like this league has kind of helped us get our game together as a team and get to know where the spots or gaps are that we lost from the players last year,” junior Austin Jones said. “(The shorter field) helps us because it’s a faster play like indoor soccer and it’s more about connecting passes rather than trying to spread everyone out.”

Knipp also likes the short field and what it offers.

“Playing on this small a field definitely helps with our touch and movement since the field is so small,” Knipp said. “Everyone has to be active and the other thing that it helps is that it puts players, where they are used to playing, out of their comfort zone and out of different positions. Everyone has to play offense and you’re playing defense no matter where you are on the field. It’s like a futsal indoor kind of thing. It requires you to work on your foot skills, passing and movement as a team.”

The league helps Knipp see where his players excel and seeing what needs to work on.

“My hope is that these guys are seeing what is exposed of them and not put their head down about it and actually work on it,” Knipp said. “Everything here carries right into our season and our practice.

“I’ve been telling the guys I don’t care who scores, or what the score is. I just want us to get better and recognize what we have to get better on. I just don’t want to come out and tell them everything, because I don’t want them relying on me. I want them to find things they can work on.”