Football season closes with 5th win
The Tonganoxie Chieftains won their final game of the season in dramatic fashion Thursday, keeping their footing to earn a slick and muddy 6-0 overtime win over Lansing.
After Tonganoxie's defense stopped Lansing on its overtime possession, senior Kyle Wedel, behind strong blocking up front, battled in for the winning touchdown on the third play of the Chieftains' possession.
With the victory the team finished its season 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the Kaw Valley League. It finished 2-1 in district play.
"The kids showed a lot of heart and guts," Coach Mark Elston said. "Several times they could have given up, but they kept fighting."
Going into the game, the Chieftains knew they had an outside chance to advance to the bi-district playoffs. For them to make it, Basehor-Linwood would have to lose its game and the Chieftains would have to win theirs. The point spread also had to be large in one of the two games.
The Chieftains knew they had to win by a good margin to advance.
The coaches knew the team needed touchdowns to make up its point difference with Basehor-Linwood should it lose.
That played a big part in the Chieftains faked mid-range field goal with about six minutes left in the first quarter.
Normally the Chieftains would have taken the field goal and the lead. It was an attempt that senior Ryan Lowe would not miss often.
Though the play culminated with a reception for a gain by Wedel, it wasn't enough for a first down, and Tonganoxie gave up possession.
The Chieftains held Lansing for the remainder of the quarter, which ended scoreless.
Despite a 97-yard game from junior running back Joseph Sledd and two forced interceptions by the team, Tonganoxie couldn't score and the last three quarters ended scoreless for both teams, forcing the game into overtime at zeros.
But the game's low score did not prove to be a factor in the playoffs because Basehor-Linwood won its game to finish 3-0 in the district and eliminate the Chieftains' shot at the post-season.
But the win was important to fans, who saw their team win five of its last six games and claim its first winning season since '95.
It was important to coaches who saw their efforts, philosophies and strategies work a successful, immediate impact on the team.
Next year's seniors are beginning to work for the 2001 season, and they are already looking to get some younger players to work harder too.
Junior Mitchell McGinnis said that, in addition to preparing himself mentally and physically in the off season, he would motivate the younger players to do the same.
"Anything to get the team to where it was this year," McGinnis said. "I just hope we can have an even better season next year."
Elston said that was important.
"A good foundation has been set," Elston said. "Now we've got to continue and go forward from this season."