KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since 2015, the Basehor-Linwood High School will have a non-senior starting at quarterback.
"We've had a run of one-year senior starters since then and so, Brady VanDonge is a junior and he'll be taking the reins, he had a great JV season," Rod Stallbaumer, head football coach at Basehor-Linwood, said.
The Bobcats won the United Kansas Conference title last season and had a perfect 9-0 record before falling to the state champions, St. James Academy in the Kansas Class 4A playoffs.
As Basehor-Linwood looks to pick up where they left off last season, it won't be easy.
"We're just trying to learn," Stallbaumer said. "We've got a lot of guys who are inexperienced and we're trying to get them a lot of reps."
Call it a rebuilding year as the Bobcats lost 27 seniors, but the team returns some key starters and will bring up last seasons junior varsity players who also went undefeated.
"It's different, like last year I didn't really have to step into a leadership role because we had a lot of seniors, a lot of guys that knew what they were doing, they were there for a long time," Brant Wilson, a wide receiver at Basehor-Linwood said. "So, this year is like I got to step up."
Wilson, a senior, comes back as a first-team All-UKC selection after snagging 35 balls for 463 yards and 6 touchdowns.
"The goal for me and for some of my teammates, obviously, is to go all the way," Wilson said. "But I think that winning the conference is a pretty big goal to start with and keep progressing as we go."
This season, Piper High School returns to the UKC. Topeka West and Topeka Seaman will also join the league.
Basehor-Linwood will open the 2022 season at home on Sept. 2 and host Tonganoxie.