Chieftains survive flag night Friday
The main races didn't start until Saturday at Kansas Speedway, but the yellow flag was flying early on Friday in nearby Tonganoxie.
In a Kaw Valley League matchup between Tonganoxie High and Immaculata, the game was far from a race.
The Chieftains were called for 11 penalties worth 150 yards, while Immaculata was flagged eight times for 45 yards.
But after all the hankies were picked up and the yards walked off, Tonganoxie escaped with a 23-14 win against the Raiders.
"We kept it exciting," THS coach Mark Elston said.
The Chieftains (3-1 overall and 3-0 in the KVL) found the most flag problems in the second half, accumulating seven. Tonganoxie had two of those for unsportsmanslike conduct and another for taunting.
The unending whistles weren't music to quarterback Justin Walker's ears. The junior had trouble describing the flags.
"Not in appropriate words," Walker said. "It was horrible."
As tempers flared for both teams, Walker tried to simmer his troops down.
"I was yelling at them to keep their composure," Walker said. "But it didn't do much good."
With the Chieftains leading 7-6 in the third quarter, Walker appeared to be the coolest player on the field.
Rolling out to the right, Walker looked for a receiver, but instead scampered into the end zone with a 21-yard run and 7:49 left in the third quarter. The PAT by Kirk Rodell put Tonganoxie up 14-6.
"We were looking to pass, but the defenders went out on the receivers and left it wide open," Walker said.
The Chieftains appeared to be in control early in the fourth quarter. Junior Luke McCarty blocked an Immaculata punt inside the Raider 10 and Andrew Miller ran the ball in for another touchdown.
A 21-6 lead looked promising, but the Raiders (0-4 and 0-4) answered in the air. Immac sophomore quarterback Tim Supplee found senior Robert Todd for a 65-yard pass. The Raider pair connected again for the two-point conversion, and Immac was back, now trailing 21-14 with 8:47 left in the game.
Tonganoxie appeared to have the answer on the next series, as junior running back Billy Baska ran around the right side for a 65-yard touchdown. But on the play there was a yep penalty. A clipping call negated the hefty run, and the Chieftains were clinging to the one-touchdown lead.
The Chieftains once again had to get help on defense to salvage the win. Supplee, faced with a second and 20 deep in his own territory, looked for a Raider receiver. With Miller chasing him in the end zone, Supplee made a desperation throw. Intentional grounding was called, and Tonganoxie was awarded the safety with 2:02 left.
Tonganoxie will head to Santa Fe Trail on Friday to take on the Chargers. SFHS is 4-0 and in first place in the KVL Small School Division. The Chieftains stand in second place in the conference's large school division.