Chargers strike Tonganoxie, 35-6
Santa Fe Trail gains 224 yards passing; THS drops first KVL game
Tonganoxie's match-up with Santa Fe Trail on Friday was the conference game it was supposed to be in the first half.
The passing Chargers led the running Chieftains 7-6 at halftime. Senior quarterback Troy Morando was inches away from putting Tonganoxie ahead 8-7 on a two-point conversion. But his scamper to the right side of the field was just short.
The second half, though, belonged to Santa Fe Trail (3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Kaw Valley League). After tallying 95 yards in the first half, Tonganoxie (3-2 and 3-1) had 11 yards rushing in the third quarter. Santa Fe Trail added two touchdowns in the same stanza on its way to a 35-6 win.
"They just crushed us up front in the second half," Tonganoxie High School coach Mark Elston said.
Tonganoxie had 99 yards of total offense, including 7 in the second half.
While the Chieftains stalled on offense, the Chargers went to the air on the THS defense. Leading 7-6, Santa Fe Trail scored on a 45-yard halfback toss pass from running back Justin Ramsdell to receiver Cameron Babb.
Ramsdell also intercepted a Morando pass for a 35-yard touchdown return, stretching the lead to 21-6 and making the Chieftains' mountain much tougher to climb.
The Chargers finished with 224 passing yards and 86 rushing yards.
"We told them all week that they could go the distance in five seconds," Elston said.
For Santa Fe Trail, the victory was a refreshing change after an eight-point loss to Marysville and last week's last-minute loss at Basehor-Linwood.
"We've had a couple of very close, disappointing losses," said SFT coach Bob Von Stein. "We were doubting ourselves a little, but a win like this should help us regain our confidence and help us make a run through league play."
It doesn't appear that anyone can make a charge through the league just yet. Lansing, Santa Fe Trail and Tonganoxie are in a three-way tie for first at 3-1 in the league and 3-2 overall. Perry-Lecompton (2-2 and 3-2) and Mill Valley (3-2 and 3-2) are two more teams with legitimate shots at the title. The Jaguars stunned Basehor 27-0 on Friday. Still, throw in Basehor-Linwood (2-1 and 2-3), and six teams have shots at winning the Kaw Valley.
Elston said the league's parity might reduce some of the sting from the Santa Fe Trail loss.
"It does wonders for a kid's confidence," Elston said. "It shows that if you go out on a certain night you can beat anybody no matter what the stats say.
"On the reverse side, if you don't come to play, you're going to get beat."
Tonganoxie will play a non-league game Friday at Parsons. THS defeated the Vikings 10-0 in last year's game at Beatty Field. Parsons outgained Tonganoxie on offense, but key defensive stands helped the Chieftains who had 80 yards of offense.
"They're fast," Elston said. "They're a lot like us. They play very well for three downs and then have one that really hurts them."
Senior lineman Lucas Frantz will miss his second game Friday after injuring his knee against De Soto on Sept. 21. Elston said he could be back when district playoffs start Oct. 12. Sophomore Nick Stein started last week in Frantz's position after Matt Gripka also was injured. Gripka is questionable for Friday's game. Jared Starcher is the lone senior currently on the offensive line.
Go Chargers, er, Chieftains
Von Stein's wife might have had some trouble rooting for the Chargers. Ruth Von Stein is the former Ruth Peterson, who graduated from Tonganoxie in 1964.
Von Stein, who is in his 24th year as coach at SFT and 31st overall, said Ruth is a Charger.
"She's been away long enough," Von Stein said. "We do have good feelings toward Tonganoxie. It's really changing."
The wheels on the bus . . .
With the help of a lift-a-thon in the summer, the football team will ride a charter bus for the three-hour trip to Parsons.
"Thanks to all the people who contributed," Elston said. Money raised will go toward the bus ride and a meal.
Top money-raisers also received awards for the lift-a-thon. Top players were Andrew Miller and Andy Koontz.
Parsons plays at a county stadium that seats 6,000, which will be a change of pace for Tonganoxie.
"Our guys will think they're playing in the Fiesta Bowl," Elston said.