Braves new world
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Life as a Bonner Springs football player changed dramatically last season when new head coach Lucas Aslin took the helm.
Aslin took over for longtime coach Lew Kasselman who retired after the 2010 season. Kasselman had been at Bonner for a long time and when Aslin came in there were new ways of doing everything. Aslin brought his experience as a high school and college coach to Bonner and set out to turn the program into a consistent winner.
“It was a different attitude a different mindset,” Aslin said. “Coach Kasselman was a lot older than me so there was a different way of doing things so there were major changes in a lot of different areas.
“The biggest thing was just to demand they get in the weight room and get a summer program going. They’ve always had some good looking guys and some people that physically could do some things but they didn’t look quite like they should have. The facilities weren’t there to do that but when I got here they started putting the facilities into and that helped me out.”
The time in the weight room wasn’t just in the preseason or offseason. Aslin used the weight room to also work on the mental aspect of his team.
“Last year we lifted every day of the week even on game day just to prove a point,” Aslin said. “That was the biggest thing just at least mindset wise as far as lifting weights and trying to get bigger.”
The first year had the normal first year ups and downs. There was an opening game win over Topeka Seaman. That was followed by a three-game losing streak to Mill Valley, Turner and Basehor-Linwood. That losing streak then turned into a five game winning streak to close out the season.
That steak included wins over a previously undefeated Schlagle squad and a Lansing team that was the defending district champs. The Lansing win earned the Braves the district title and allowed them to host Gardner-Edgerton in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
That is where the progress ended. The Trailblazers scored 70 points on Bonner Springs for the second straight year in the playoffs and ended the Braves season.
That was year No. 1 under Aslin as the players were learning the new methods and expectations of the head coach and his staff. The offseason brought new challenges and Aslin said his players responded to the change.
“The first couple of games the kids were complaining they were sore and couldn’t run that fast,” Aslin said. “I told them they weren’t that fast anyways so just keep working you are going to get faster and get better. I think it paid off.
“The newness of the thing it took the kids six to eight weeks for the kids to finally feel comfortable. We started off slow. Then we got down the line and played some teams that we felt we could beat and the kids get confidence and you can kind of get on a roll at the end of the year.”
This year Bonner Springs is off to a 3-1 with only a tough loss last week to Piper as a blemish on the resume. The Braves led throughout most of the game only to fall 29-23 in overtime. For Bonner Springs, it was tough game to see go into the loss column, their first of the year.
“Obviously we can get better, but I think it’s a win for us,” head coach Lucas Aslin said. “We seemed like we won everything except the scoreboard tonight. Our kids played great, we saw some situations we haven’t seen before, and we had a good scheme on defense tonight. It just didn’t add up.”
Aslin sees the work in the weight room in the offseason as an extra bonus with the move to the rugged 4A that features run dominated teams.
“It is definitely a different style of football when we play those Frontier League teams,” Aslin said. “The good thing for us going down to 4A we are going to play some teams that have to do what we do and play eight or nine guys on both sides of the ball.
“We knew moving down to 4A we had to get bigger on both sides of the ball. I think it fits to what we are doing. I told the guys the other day that starter wise we are about 18 pounds a man heavier. That is a pretty good chunk of guys that will help us with this more physical style of play.”
This week the Braves have to bounce back and take on Mill Valley. If they hope to have a shot to win the Kaw Valley this is a big game.
No matter what happens as this season goes on, Bonner Springs could be a team to watch. With a new plan in place, dedication from the players and support from the fans and administration the Braves are a program on the rise.
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