Passing efficiency sends Trail to KVL win against THS
Friday's Santa Fe Trail-Tonganoxie game looked like it would be a track meet early on. Tonganoxie passed on its first play, faking a handoff and connecting on a pass that helped land the Chieftains deep in Charger territory.
The drive stalled, though, and Santa Fe Trail marched the other way for an early 6-0 lead. The Chargers added another touchdown before Chieftain junior quarterback Justin Walker broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run.
And this was all in the first quarter. Walker's touchdown appeared to be a tone-setter for THS.
The game was then scoreless in the second quarter, but in the second half, Santa Fe Trail sprinted like the wind, and Tonganoxie just couldn't stay in the race. SFT erupted in the second half for a 33-7 win.
"You can't give up big plays to a team that knows how to score," THS coach Mark Elston said.
The Chieftains (3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Kaw Valley League) seemed to have big plays of their own.
Walker's touchdown run was the longest of the night, and the quarterback connected twice with senior receiver Kyle Mayse for 85 yards passing.
But Elston's concerns were legitimate Santa Fe Trail struck with major plays. Charger senior quarterback Shane Miles connected with Brandon Elston for a 65- yard touchdown pass and Dustin DeWitt for a 55-yard touchdown pass.
The Chieftains had everything in their favor early in the second half. Tonganoxie stopped Santa Fe Trail on its opening drive with tipped pass and Clayton McDaniel's interception. The lineman put Tonganoxie in an ideal position. On second and 11 from the Charger 40, Mayse corralled a 34-yard pass and Tonganoxie was in business on the SFT 6. But, momentum swung for good when the Chieftains coughed up the ball. The Chargers put together a 94-yard drive. With an 18-7 lead, they never looked back.
The two teams were level in the running game. Tonganoxie had 181 yards on 42 carries, while Santa Fe Trail had 193 yards on 45 touches.
The Chargers' biggest weapon came in the air. SFT had 303 yards, compared to Tonganoxie's 87. Miles was deadly, completing 15 of 18 passes with the one interception.
"We're not blessed with a tremendous amount of speed, and that's the best I've seen a high school quarterback throw the ball on target.
Elston continued his praise of the Charger quarterback.
"We haven't faced a quarterback like that ever," he said. "That was a pretty impressive performance. I don't care if you're throwing against air. To hit everybody between the numbers like that is phenomenal and we didn't have the speed on the outside to do much about it."
Santa Fe Trail improved to 5-0 and remained in first place in the small school division of the KVL. Still, Charger coach Bob Von Stein was concerned with Tonganoxie being their first major test.
"We met a worthy opponent that made it very tough for us to run the ball with big, beefy people," Von Stein said. This game was a baptism for us. We needed some tough people that could do things offensively and defensively. They have a complete team, but I think we just overwhelmed them with the passing.
The Chargers also used a fake punt in the second half that deflated any possibility of a Chieftain comeback. Senior Cameron Babb delayed, and then ran around the right side for a 65-yard run. Tonganoxie stopped De Soto homecoming king Michael Allen nearly three weeks ago, but the Chieftains couldn't stop Babb, who was the Chargers' homecoming king.
Tonganoxie will look to enjoy its own homecoming Friday with a KVL contest against Mill Valley. The Jaguars are also 5-0 after defeating Bonner Springs 34-15 Friday. Tonganoxie defeated BSHS 21-7 in week two.
Santa Fe Trail 33, THS 7
THS (3-1, 3-2) 7 0 0 0 7
SFTHS (5-0, 5-0) 12 0 14 7 33
SFT Miles 10 run (kick failed)
SFT Elston 65 pass from Miles (conversion failed)
THS Walker 74 run (Rodell kick)
SFT DeWitt 3 pass from Miles (conversion failed)
SFT DeWitt 55 pass from Miles (Elston pass from Miles)
SFT Babb 65 run (DeWitt kick)
By the numbers
First downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 42-181 45-193
Passing yards 87 303
Passes 3-10-1 15-18-1
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-10 5-20