A Bobcat attack/Player profile on Joey Foster
In 2016, the Basehor-Linwood football team reached a landmark en route to the pinnacle of Class 4A-I competition.
The Bobcats completed their first ever state semifinal season when they not only captured a Kaw Valley League title and the initial sectional title in program history, but won 11 games to start the season.
Sure, it all came crashing down with a big loss to eventual champ Bishop Miege in the sub-state round, but the groundwork has now been laid and the Bobcats are one of the state’s legit squads.
“The foundation of any winning program is hard work, discipline and unselfishness,” BLHS head coach Rod Stallbaumer said. “Last season was a breakthrough year of sorts. Last year’s group embodied those virtues very well. In order to build the kind of program we want, we must have a culture that sticks to those principles year after year. Every year is a new year though so we have to continue to do the little things right and work hard.
“I've been very pleased with this group’s dedication all off-season. They were out throwing routes after weights in January in 26-degree temps. We had the offensive line that started doing drills on their own after weights in March. We believe that they have started the foundations for that winning culture. There is still plenty of room for improvement, it’s a learning process but if we can channel all that hard work into an unselfish team-first attitude we have an opportunity to have another very good season and help build on what last year’s group accomplished.”
The Bobcat offense will have to overcome some key losses, including quarterback Justin Phillips. Senior J.C. Watson and junior Dylan Mussett are the two top candidates to replace the elusive Phillips.
“Both are very talented quarterbacks and have a lot of potential at the position,” Stallbaumer said. “They are similar in many ways as they are both good passers and have a great deal of athleticism. Right now, they both lack experience at the position so getting the reps and improving their processing and decision making quickly will be key to winning the job.”
Watson has a little glossier resume of the two young men when it comes to running, having played in the slot, but Mussett possesses the experience at the position, having played the last two years with the junior varsity.
“It will be interesting to see the position play out but we have seen enough so far this summer to feel very confident in which ever one wins the starting job,” Stallbaumer said.
The offense returns only three starters – two on the offensive line – and saw 2,100 rushing yards and 1,400 receiving yards walk out the school doors with 52 of 62 touchdowns in tow as graduation called their names.
“We feel we have some nice pieces that have been waiting for their turn that are ready to step up and fill some of that load,” Stallbaumer said. “Offense is all about timing and rhythm and that is especially true with our offense where we utilize a lot of different players into what we do, so it will likely take some time early in the season for us to get things moving as efficiently as it did last season but we feel confident that we will get there.”
Senior offensive lineman Miles Beach is liking what he’s seen with the Bobcat offense.
“We got some guys stepping up and filling spots on the O-line and I feel like we have a solid, core group of guys that will show up every game,” Beach said. “Our wide receivers are going to step up and continue to be where we were last year. Dylan can play, he has a good arm. The way the offense was set up with Justin, who was a quick guy, that’s why J.C. is still in there. I wouldn’t have a problem with either one of them playing because they are both pretty good athletes.
“We are definitely different so we just have to find the ways to make plays and we still have the guys that can do that.”
Thankfully, the defense has plenty of experience back with a majority of BLHS front seven returning.
“We will be a little inexperienced in the secondary but once again feel that we have some players that have performed very well on JV last year and have been waiting their turn for varsity,” Stallbaumer said. “We went to team camp at Pittsburg State and played a bunch of top 5A and 6A schools from Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri and felt like our guys competed very well.”
Senior middle linebacker, TJ Williams believes the defense is more than prepared to hold up.
“I feel like the defense can hold up until the offense can get a hang of it and everything,” Williams said. “We are working hard. We have a new quarterback, running back and receivers so they are working on timing. On defense, they are still making us work trying to make us better. We will be a physical and fast defense. We’re going to have to step up and be better. We lost a lot of good kids.
“(The Miege loss) has created a revenge-type grudge against them.”
PLAYER PROFILE: Joey Foster - The Comeback Kid
A senior left guard and outside linebacker, Joey Foster is coming back with something to prove this summer.
“At the end of last season, I broke my fibula, so coming off that injury I have been doing a lot of recovery to get back into it,” Foster said. “It happened in the 37th play of the (sub-state final) Bishop Miege game, on a punt return. He broke on us and I dove for the tackle and TJ Williams made the tackle and rolled up on me and on my ankle and that was the end of it. It’s been a long road back, getting healthy now and getting to where I am supposed to be.
“I am laying there on the turf and I was trying to get everyone off of me. The doctor from Shawnee Mission comes out and told me it wasn’t broke and I thought I was able to come back in the game and help my team. I stood up, couldn’t put any weight on my leg, I went to the other side of the field and the trainer said it probably was broke after looking at it some more. That was the end of my season.”
The pain didn’t come until the next day when the adrenaline wore off and the realization also set in.
But then, his teammates stepped up and the most pivotal of times.
“The first week I went and saw my doctor and he told me I would have my surgery,” Foster said. “Dec. 8, I had my surgery and my teammates were contacting me, seeing how I was doing and waiting for me to get back and talk about how much we will get done. Those thoughts kept me in and kept me grinding toward my recovery.
“There is nothing more to it than looking forward. If you are thinking how bad it hurts or how much you are missing out on, you are never going to recover and you will never get back to where you were when you are thinking about how bad it sucks.”
Now he believes he is a smarter athlete and a different player.
“I feel like I’m more cognizant of how easy it is to get an injury and how long the road back is,” Foster said. “So, after every practice I am icing and stretching and after every lift so I can prevent injury in the future.
“(His game has seen improvement) in hand quickness and my football IQ, because all I have been doing is watching film. I will be able to make those decisions and plays faster than I would have otherwise. My hand quickness, those were the only drills I could do when I was hurt.”
When he isn’t trying to overcome his setback, Foster spends time trying to enjoy the little things in life.
“I am an outdoors guy and it’s all fishing for me,” Foster said. “Or I was outside watching the grass grow. I have a big pond in the back of my house, so that’s where I do my fishing. We have bass, crappie, catfish, perch. I had about a six- or seven-pound bass back about a month ago.”