Thoughts from Friday night: Bobcat defense hangs on, local teams go 4-0 in Week 3

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Basehor-Linwood tight end Chants Nelson makes a catch before rolling into the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown in Friday's 26-21 win against Center.

For the second time this season, a local high school football game was affected by positive COVID-19 cases. First it was Lansing's opponent Schagle in Week 1, this week it was De Soto dealing with a handful of positive cases in the program, forcing Basehor-Linwood to look for a new game with less than a day's notice. 

The Bobcats (3-0) found out about De Soto's outbreak early Friday morning and were potentially looking at not playing at all in Week 3 but a few hours later, they were able to get a game with Center High School - a 3-0 Class 3 school in Kansas City, Missouri. The Bobcats were tested by the Yellowjackets but came out on top 26-21 in a thrilling game from start to finish. 

"It was absolute chaos," head coach Rod Stallbaumer said. "We found out about De Soto's issue pretty early and while they were still seeing if they could make it work, we started backtracking and seeing what our options would be."

Stallbaumer said the team didn't find out about the new opponent until eight hours prior to kickoff, meaning time to prepare was very scarce. 

"We didn't find out till 11 a.m.," Stallbaumer said. Then you got to try to get some film and put together a game plan and revert everything but it's a credit to the kids that they were adaptable, and that those guys (Center) got themselves ready to go, and we came out here and played really really well."

The Yellowjackets presented a challenge for the Bobcats in place of what was likely going to be their toughest game on the schedule with De Soto.

Senior quarterback Brady Garrison attempts a pass in the 26-21 win against Center Friday.

"We were really hyped up to play De Soto," senior quarterback Brady Garrison said. "When we found out about the game change, we redirected that hype to this team. Coach had a great scouting report, given the amount of time, and it was great to come away with the win."

Center came into the game undefeated with a couple solid Class 3 wins but turnovers created by the Bobcat defense made all of the difference. 

It wasn't just Center turning the ball over early in the game though as Garrison and Bobcat center Pete Best had issues getting clean snaps off during the first two drives with one sailing over the quarterback's head and setting Center up to take an early lead.

"We've done that to ourselves too often this year where we were kind of our own worst enemy," Stallbaumer said, "but we got a bunch of seniors out there and they have some savvy, and then they understood that if they just calm down and let the nerves settle, will be OK."

The Bobcat offense got the message and got into a rhythm in the first half as Garrison connected with tight end Chants Nelson from 34-yards out to tie the game at 7-7.

The Yellowjacket offense was having little difficulty moving the ball during the game but turnovers spelled the difference as the Bobcats forced their second of the game when linebacker Peyton McGee tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and managed to come down the with the interception. 

Basehor got its first lead of the game in the second quarter when Garrison punched it into the endzone from two yards out but a failed PAT gave Basehor just a 13-7 lead and left the door open for Center to get back in it. 

And they did almost immediately as sophomore running back Jacoree Love ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive to put Center back in front 14-13. 

Senior running back Zack Sisemore had his first 200-yard rushing game of the season as he totaled 202 yards on 32 carries with a touchdown.

After a relatively quiet first couple of drives, senior running back Zack Sisemore took over the ensuing drive and finished it off with a three-yard scoring run, marking his eighth total touchdown of the season to give Basehor a 20-14 lead.

Center had plenty of time to mount a drive and appeared to be on the brink of reaching the endzone but a strong play by defensive back Denton Gentry forced the third Yellowjacket turnover of the game at the goal line to help Basehor take a 20-14 lead into halftime. 

The Yellowjacket offense came out of the half swinging hard and landed their first couple of shots, using just two plays to reach the Bobcat redzone. Basehor linebacker Sam Hicks caused the fourth turnover of the game by dragging down Love for a loss as Center attempted to convert on fourth-and-short. 

"Our defense played phenomenally," Stallbaumer said. "They bowed their back, when they needed to have a lot of goalline and redzone stands and gave our offense opportunities to come back and win the game." 

Neither team was able to mount a scoring drive through the third and most of the fourth quarter but Center continued to put together strong drives that were thwarted by turnovers. The Jackets broke through late in the game as Love scored his third touchdown to put them ahead 21-20 with just over two minutes in the game. 

The Bobcat offense showed no signs of cracking under the pressure, even after a strong kickoff by Center put Basehor at their own 15 to start the drive. Sisemore opened the drive with a 30-yard run, followed by two 20 yard catches by Nelson. A defensive holding penalty set the Bobcats up at the Center nine-yard line and Garrison called his own number with an empty backfield and beat numerous defenders to get the go-ahead score. 

"I had faith in myself and my teammates did their job and it was great," Garrison said.

"It's more confidence for him," Stallbaumer said of Garrison leading the game-winning drive. "We have a lot of trust and Brady and being a first-year starter is always tough because you still have those game reps underneath you and so the more times he's out there making plays like he is I think the more confidence he'll have. He's got a lot of moxie, he's tough."

Now trailing 26-21, Center had a shot to mount a drive but time ran out on the Yellowjackets after they got all the way down to the Bobcat 20. 

Garrison finished 13-of-19 passing for 136 yards with one passing and two rushing scores. Sisemore had another productive night, leading all rushers with 202 yards on 32 carries. Gentry led the Bobcat defense with 6.5 tackles. 

Pioneers score big win at Piper

Leavenworth bounced back from its 42-13 loss to Basehor in Week 2 in a big way with a 25-23 win at Piper Friday. The game marked the Pirates Homecoming festivities and was just the second home game for the team in two years. 

The Pioneers fell behind early 8-0 but answered as quarterback Eddie McLaughlin escaped pressure and heaved a ball to the endzone, only to have it tipped by a Piper defender before a Pioneer was able to secure it for the score. Leavenworth opted to keep pace with the Pirates and converted its two-point try to go into halftime tied 8-8. 

Pioneer running back Sam Curtis opened the second half scoring with a short touchdown run to give Leavenworth a 16-8 lead after another successful two-point attempt. Piper tied it up at 16-16 going into the fourth quarter but Leavenworth grabbed the lead again but a miss two-point try left the door open for Piper trailing 22-16. The Pirates reclaimed the lead with three minutes remaining, forcing the Pioneers to drive the field for a chance at the win. Leavenworth got into Piper territory late in the game and Peyton White pushed a 37-yard field goal through for a quality win against a Pirates team that had beaten two strong Class 4A teams in previous weeks. 

Lansing outlasts Heights in UKC clash

After running past Turner last week, Lansing faced its second United Kansas Conference matchup of the season in Shawnee Heights on the road. The Lions came out on top 17-14, thanks to a solid defensive play by senior cornerback Richie Patrick. 

Lansing opened the scoring as quarterback Caden Crawford found wide receiver Landen Thomas on a third-and-goal play. The Thunderbirds got the game tied up toward the end of the first quarter but Lansing got back ahead with a short field goal by Liam Zell. 

Down just three points in the third quarter, the Thunderbirds were mounting a drive deep into Lions' territory but Patrick jumped in front of a pass and took it 92 yards to give Lansing a 17-7 lead. Heights pulled within three points late in the game and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead but couldn't put a scoring drive together. 

Rams get big win in home opener

A week after being shut out by Atchison County Community High School, Pleasant Ridge had its most productive game of the season, defeating Maur Hill 42-28 in its home opener and Homecoming game Friday. The Rams snapped a four-game losing streak to the Ravens in the process and moved to 2-1 overall this season. 

The Rams led early 8-7 and then 22-14 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, Pleasant Ridge had doubled up the Ravens to lead 28-14. Maur Hill pulled within a score early in the fourth quarter but the Rams slammed the door with a late touchdown to seal the win.