Linebacker McGivern provides leadership
The opening of Mill Valley High School last school year may be the biggest asset for De Soto sports fanatics this season.
With the departure of numerous lettermen because of the new high school, a plethora of De Soto underclassmen were able to earn their stripes last season.
Included in the mix for this season is the biggest, fastest, strongest and baddest Wildcat - on the football field anyway Bart McGivern.
Leadership is McGivern's No. 1 asset, said second-year Wildcat skipper Brad Scott of his star player.
"He leads by example," the coach said. "He is the heart and soul of our football team." McGivern probably put his name at the top of every Kaw Valley coach's all-league checklist for 2001 by earning second-team honors at linebacker last season. He is one of 22 starters and 27 lettermen returning for another year of De Soto football.
According to McGivern, De Soto should be improved from last year.
"We would like to have a winning season," he said. "But I'm not sure how the other teams in the league will be this season."
McGivern, who has been all over the field on defense with stints at defensive end and tackle, lists linebacker as his favorite position because of the position's physical and attacking nature.
He set the Wildcat school record of 18 tackles in a game against Eudora last season.
"It's the position I'm best at," the senior said. "I know what I'm doing, and I'm good at it."
Unlike some linebackers, McGivern likes to take a laid-back approach in his game preparations.
"I try to focus on my responsibilities," said McGivern, who couldn't restrain his excitement about the opportunity to hit someone. "I do listen to all kinds of music, but I just try to relax and go over my responsibilities in my head so I don't mess up in the game."
McGivern listed a 21-20 win over Gardner during his sophomore season as his most memorable moment in football so far anyway.
"I remember we weren't supposed to have a chance," said McGivern. "But it was real exciting to get the win when Justin Cobb scored the winning touchdown with about a minute left in the game."
McGivern keeps his competitive edge by starring as Wildcats center during the basketball season. He also throws the shot put, discus and javelin for the track team. The big senior stays in shape year round by mowing and doing odd jobs for Cedar Valley Florists.
Though he is unsure of his plans, McGivern has given some consideration to teaching.