THS routs Lansing, 41-0
Zach Ditty was yet another banged-up running back on the Tonganoxie roster.
After injuring his knee late in the Basehor-Linwood game last week, Ditty battled a swollen knee throughout Friday's game at Lansing.
Still unavailable was top back Billy Baska, who tore an MCL against Piper. Fellow senior Tim Hopkins, who also tore his MCL in that game, played sparingly against Lansing on Friday.
That left full-time fullback B.T. Fleming and running back Sam Mitchell as the Chieftains' healthiest backs.
But against Lansing in another key district contest, the Chieftains withstood the dings and bruises.
Everything appeared to be falling into place as Tonganoxie won, 41-0, and finished the regular season 8-1. Ditty could sense a solid night when THS overcame flags.
"I knew when we were getting holding penalties and kept getting first downs," Ditty said.
Tonganoxie, though, seemed to have the game in hand long before they were whistled for a flag. The Chieftains jumped out to a 21-0 lead before they encountered a penalty.
Ditty scored first on a four-yard run, then Justin Walker scored four minutes later on a five-yard scamper. Ditty scored again on a three-yard run with 6:57 left in the half. Dustan Sprowls then scored on a four-yard pass from Walker with 1:18 left in the half and THS had a 28-0 lead at intermission.
Although Baska had to sit out and Hopkins wasn't back to his pre-injury form, Tonganoxie had plenty of power -- even in the air. Traditionally a run-oriented team, THS passed considerably in the season-opener against Wamego, but relied more on the run as the season continued.
Against the Lions, Tonganoxie excelled on the ground and in the air.
THS had 10 players run the ball, most notably Walker, who had 18 runs for 163 yards for two touchdowns. Mitchell had eight carries for 31 yards and a touchdown, while Ditty had just 10 yards on four carries, but also had two touchdowns. Hopkins had 56 yards on 13 carries and fullback BT Fleming had 20 yards on six carries.
Walker led the rushing stats, but he also found success in the air. The senior completed 8 of 13 passes -- three plays to Shane Howard for 57 yards, two to Sam Mitchell for 36 yards, two to Hopkins for 18 yards and one to Sprowls for four yards on the touchdown catch.
"They played with determination," said coach Mark Elston, who improved to 23-14 as Tonganoxie's coach. "The offense played as it did early in the year."
And don't forget the defense.
Led by Kaleb Lawrence with 10 tackles and Matt Weyer with nine, the Chieftains posted their second shutout of the season.
Tony Aragon also forced a Lansing fumble and Ross Starcher, Ryan Burke and Alan Athon all had interceptions.
Lansing to 58 rushing yards on 27 carries and 71 yards on 7-of-14 passing for 71 yards as LHS had 129 total yards.
Tonganoxie complemented 126 passing yards with 303 yards on 54 carries.
The Chieftains were back to earlier form with 429 yards of total offense after struggling in a 17-12 win against Basehor-Linwood before.
Mitchell said there was a major factor between the two games.
"The line did an excellent job tonight," Mitchell said, referring to the offensive line. "Tonight was much better than last game."
Although the game provided plenty of excitement for the Tonganoxie sidelines, Graham Field fell silent in the second half as LHS quarterback Alex Riemann lay motionless after a play. Paramedics tended to the senior for several minutes before he was taken off the field by stretcher.
Lansing athletics director Gary Mattingly said Tuesday that Riemann returned to school Friday.
"It was a stinger basically," Mattingly said.