The Basehor-Linwood Bobcats football season ended last Friday to the Bishop Miege Stags ending a stellar season filled with a 10-2 record and winning the first United Kansas Conference title. 

“I think that it was a very good season and a return to the sub-state finals was a great accomplishment,” head coach Rod Stallbaumer said when asked to describe the season. “I was very proud of this group’s dedication and work throughout the year.”

The Bobcats opened the season with a 42-6 win over Tonganoxie. The Bobcats would lose in their second game 14-13 to the Lansing Lions to fall to 1-1. The Bobcats would win six straight to close out the regular season on a high note and clinched the 4A No. 2 seed in the East. The Bobcats took care of Eudora, Fort Scott and Paola before falling to Miege in sub-state. 

The season was filled with a lot of memories for Stallbaumer.

“In any successful season there are always great memories,” Stallbaumer said. “I think winning on the road against De Soto, who was fifth-ranked in 5A, was a great memory, the playoff run and being able to host so many playoff games was also a great experience. But mostly I’ll just remember watching these guys perform and enjoy the success they worked so hard for will be the most memorable part for me. I know how hard these guys work so watching them have success and enjoying the rewards of that hard work is awesome.”

The coach also said the De Soto game was the team’s best performance.

“I think the De Soto game might be our best performance,” Stallbaumer said. “Mostly due to the fact that I don’t know if we really knew how good we could be until that game. It was a very difficult game on the road and our team learned how hard work, focus and effort can lead to success and set the tone for the rest of the season.”

With the season now over, the Bobcats will say goodbye to the winningest senior class in school history. The head coach recalled seeing this group’s dedication when they were in middle school. 

“This senior class was a special group,” Stallbaumer said. “I can still remember them as eighth-graders staying after summer weights to rep the offense the first summer I was at BLHS and thinking how impressive that was for middle school kids to be that dedicated. These guys were a large part of two of the most successful seasons in school history and I feel they have raised the bar at Basehor-Linwood as far as what we expect in term of commitment and the success that comes with it. They will be hard to replace but the standard they set an example they provided makes it easier, which is what programs thrive on.”

Three of the seniors, Jace Friesen, Dylan Mussett and Nolan Ford, were the MVPs in the coach’s eyes.

“Jace Friesen was without a doubt our leader this season,” Stallbaumer said. “Especially defensively. He led our team in tackles and sacks and was our best run stopper. Dylan Mussett was without a doubt the engineer of our offense, his ability to read the defense and distribute the ball was huge. Nolan Ford was our do-everything guy as well, rushing, receiving, punting and defense he was everywhere for us this season.”

Mussett and Friesen were also named the players of the year on offense and defense for the United Kansas Conference. Ford was first team on offense as a running back and all-purpose. He was also an honorable mention on defense as a linebacker and first team on special teams as the punter. Stallbaumer was named co-coach of the year with De Soto’s Brian King. 

Stallbaumer also had high praises for various players that improved this season, including the conference offensive player of the year.

“I think we had several players that really improved from the 2017 season to the 2018 season,” he said. “Cion Harris emerged as the rock in the middle of our offensive line this season. Austin Coulson recovered from a torn ACL that forced him to miss his entire junior year to become our second-leading tackler and inspirational leader of our defense. Dylan Donnelly put everything together this season and stepped up as a receiver and Dylan Mussett improved a great deal at quarterback and became the captain of our offense. Those are a few of the guys who had the most improvement.”

The team will now move into the offseason. Several players will move to the winter and spring sports, but the coach said the players will also be in the weight room in the offseason program. 

“We feel like we have a good formula here to help put our guys in positions to have success,” Stallbaumer said. “Most all of our athletes will be involved in a winter and spring sport to continue to compete and develop overall as athletes. Another huge component will be our guys getting in the weight room as a part of those sports and continue to develop physically. We will have ‘quarterback school’ going in the second semester to help our guys mentally learn the position. Our offensive linemen have started a tradition of getting together themselves for player-led drills in the spring. As coaches, we will break down film from this last season, identify strengths and weaknesses and begin attending clinics to search for new ideas to help maximize our personnel. Then as the summer rolls around, the 2019 season will start and we will attend contact camps, 7-on-7, summer weights and team camps to begin our preparations for the season.”

Stallbaumer said the young players that will have to step up next season is a fun thing about having a program. Every year players graduate and he said the standard and expectations are high so the players behind the departing seniors strive to have their own success when the time comes. The coach said talented underclassmen contributed this year on varsity and others played well on JV. 

“How hard they work from now and then will determine our team’s success,” Stallbaumer said.

The goals in 2019 will remain the same according to the coach. 

“Our goals remain the same every season,” the coach said. “We don't talk a lot about winning. We hope that if we focus on learning responsibility, accountability to teammates and hard work that the winning takes care of itself.”