It's May Day - Bobcat leads the way

sehor-Linwood High School senior Jackson May would be justified in changing his last name to GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL.

That’s because the Bobcat had an uncanny knack for scoring as the veteran helped the BLHS program stay atop the Class 4A ranks despite losing a number of top players from the 2016 state runner-up squad.

May scored a team-high 22 goals and also involved others with seven assists to help lead BLHS to a 13-3-1 record despite the major roster overhaul and that is reason enough to name the Bobcat the 2017 Leavenworth Times’ Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year.

“We had a great season. No one expected us to be a good team with only three returning starters but not many people knew that we had a great bench the year before with many good returning players,” May said. “Ryan Stalcup and Austin Pliley made a huge difference on defense, also Jaxon Bounds, who made a big difference in the midfield with Carter (May) and Tuckker (Johnson). When all was said and done I couldn't have asked for a better senior season.  

“Getting to see the team grind out the tough games that either went into overtime or needed a last-second goal were definitely fun to play in. Every player looks back and wishes they could have done more but I’m leaving knowing I gave everything I had.”

He sure did, according to his head coach.

“Jackson was our leader up front who could control the ball and allow his teammates to support in the attack,” BLHS head coach Austin Knipp said. “He is unselfish and the guy you'd see working on his game at the field when it wasn't asked of him. Jackson was one of our harder working guys on the team this year. He was the guy I'd see on the field before the season started working on his shooting and dribbling skills. Every time I called in our team huddles he'd be the guy calling on his teammates to hustle in and would hush them when they were speaking while I was speaking. 

“He was the guy who'd look me in the eye and shake his head in agreement while absorbing the words I'd say and apply it on the field either during practice or games or both.”

All that attention to detail came in handy in a season wrought with the pressures of delivering an encore to the previous year.

“We knew we had big shoes to fill, but I can honestly say we felt next to no pressure when it came to expectations from 2016 since everyone expected us to do bad this season,” May said. “Playing on that 2016 team was an unreal experience but our success was no surprise. We had known for years what we were going to accomplish. 

“Competing in a state championship was crazy, especially getting to do it with such a great group of guys, and it’s something I’ll never forget. Not many people can say they accomplished what that team did, scoring 99 goals and having 17 shutouts. I’m proud to say I played for one of the best teams in Kansas history.”  

“Jackson's a great kid and is that role model that any coach could ask for,” Knipp said. “I knew I could rely on him when times got tough and I also knew that the guys looked up to him as well. He never got a big head and always put the team first because he knew that if they were going to win, it'd have to be as a team. His leadership, effort and skill as a soccer player really vaulted him to have the successful season that he did this year and we'll definitely miss him on the field next year. 

“The legacy and leadership that he left though will trickle down to the next season with the guys and when it's their turn to lead our team to success, I'll be proud to know that Jackson's influence will have paved the way for what it takes to be a leader and a captain for Bobcat soccer.”

Despite all his accolades and successes, May is not looking at playing the sport in college and that will leave Bobcat fans with the indelible image of being the last ones to see his artistry on the field.

“I haven't really put much thought into playing college soccer. I know that I am fully capable of competing at the next level and if the opportunity ever comes I’ll highly consider it,” May said. “But for now, I plan on attending Kansas State University and if this is really the end to my soccer career I couldn't have asked for a better four years.”  

REST OF THE SELECT TEAM

Jaxon Bounds, junior, Basehor-Linwood: With an engine that burns as bright as the sun, the midfielder was a second-team KVL selection and was probably first-team in miles recorded. He scored eight goals and five assists on the season. “Jaxon's stats don't do justice when trying to explain how much this kid meant to us in the midfield,” Knipp said. “He'd be on offense one moment and defense the next never getting too caught up in the moment but knowing what he needed to do to control the game and give us the chances to win.”  

Jarred Edwards, senior, Lansing: Regardless of the Lions’ struggles, the senior was on the go all season and was always one of, if not the, best players on the field every night. The midfielder took an active role in leading a very young team. “Exceptional skills, passing, vision and range,” Lansing head coach Ryan Yedlinsky said. “He is a a true leader who is being recruited to play in college, and has been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.”

Tuckker Johnson, senior, Basehor-Linwood: A scoring savant, Johnson led the Bobcats with 20 goals while adding three assists, earning first-team Kaw Valley League midfielder status. “Tuckker was one of our forces in the middle who we knew we could rely on when we needed a big moment,” Knipp said. “He has great touch on the ball and knew when to take the game over.”

Kobie Kensinger, senior, Leavenworth: The veteran manned the middle and finished with five goals and three assists. “He is the one that connects our defense with our midfield and does a great job it,” Leavenworth High head coach Derek Wilson said. “I could always count on him to be in the position that he needs to be in. Great leader for our team.”

Nate Moore, junior, Leavenworth: The Pioneer held down the back line with his speed and good instincts and parlayed his skills into a second-team Sunflower League selection. “He was the anchor of our defense and was a big reason we let in the least amount of goals in a long time around here,” Wilson said. 

Justis Simon, senior, Leavenworth: Simon scored seven goals and added an assist for the Pioneers in a turnaround year for the program. “He was a spark for us this season who would play outside mid or in the middle for us,” Wilson said. “His work ethic is great and gave us a lot of offense this year. He made second-team Sunflower League which is a big deal and was one person away from being first-team.”

Honorable mention

Cody Burleson, junior, Lansing

Austin Fuhr, sophomore, Basehor-Linwood

Gareth Harte, sophomore Basehor-Linwood

Logan Hope, sophomore, Lansing

Charlie Plessi, sophomore, Lansing