Tough year had its highlights
It was a bittersweet football season for De Soto this fall. Maybe more bitter than sweet, in the won/lost column, but the Wildcats did make major strides over the 2000 season.
The Wildcats, 1-8, were able to clear their toughest hurdle in the opening game by getting the first win of the coach Brad Scott era against Lansing.
In the 27-7 win, De Soto fell behind but rallied with 20 fourth-quarter points. Something Scott said wouldn't have happened last season.
"We put so much emphasis and effort into that game that I don't think we knew how to react (after the win)," said Scott. "We're a young team and a young coaching staff. One game does not a season make."
Though the season did include four lopsided losses the scores didn't equal the likes of 74-6 or 65-0 defeats of the year before.
The Wildcats were able to average over 340 yards per game offensively and put up almost 18 points a game, including scoring in the 20s in four games. De Soto was also able to lead in four of the eight losses.
"We talked about that," said Scott in response to not holding onto leads. "We learned how to compete this season, but now we have to learn how to win."
In order to get acquainted with putting games away, Scott and his assistant coaches are hoping that next year's players will have some success in wrestling, basketball, baseball and track this winter and spring.
Turnovers were one of the big bugaboos of the season. In their 51-8 loss to Santa Fe Trail, in the second game of the season, the Wildcats had eight turnovers.
The defense and special teams are also areas of concern for De Soto next year.
Poor tackling played a big role in Wildcat opposition running for 277 yards an outing, and 375 yards of total offense. The Wildcats gave up 3,375 total yards.
On special teams, opposing teams were able to get excellent field position more times than not by averaging 25.4 yards on 24 kickoff returns, and 14.7 yards on 20 punt returns.
Individually, Michael Allen delighted Wildcat fans by rushing for 1,611 yards on 217 carries, almost 7.5 yards a crack. The first team all Kaw Valley running back was capable of scoring from anywhere on the field and at any time.
Allen, a top 11 player in the Lawrence Journal-World, also caught five passes for another 187 yards and returned 17 kicks for another 442 yards. Allen scored 14 of De Soto's 24 touchdowns and scored 86 points on the year.
Greg Francis led the Wildcats from the quarterback position. He connected on 50 of 130 passes for 664 yards and three scores. Francis also rushed for 403 yards on 108 carries.
The honorable mention top-11 player, in the LJW, was also the main punt returner and returned four of them for 89 yards. Francis scored 48 points on six touchdowns, 10 kicked extra points and had a two-point conversion rushing the ball.
Justin Haub was Francis' favorite target by catching 25 passes for 265 yards. He also connected on 5 of 6 passes for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Bart McGivern punted the ball 34 times for an average of just over 29 yards a boot. He also caught seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. McGivern gained two yards on his only rush of the year.
Logan Smith scored a touchdown via the air and the ground. He rushed for 222 yards on 65 carries and caught six passes for 111 yards. The LJW honorable mention top-11 player also caught a PAT pass.
Defensively Logan Smith was in on 100 tackles, including two for losses, had a fumble recovery, blocked a kick and broke up a pass.
McGivern played a part in 65 tackles, including four for losses. He also caused two fumbles, recovered a fumble and hurried the quarterback once.
Jim Stevens assisted in 38 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for losses and caused three fumbles.
"I was proud of the kids," concluded Scott. "We got a lot better this season. Maybe not in the won/loss column, but I think we got our respectability back."