Archive for Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Chinstraps and mouthpieces: KU in a bowl and the Cubs in the Series

October 1, 2003

I'm fearful that Armageddon is near.

No, not because I've been reading up on current events in The Examiner or The National Enquirer, but because teams I've associated myself with are having great seasons -- and they're having these successes at the same time.

First, we take the obvious example on the gridiron: Tonganoxie. The Chieftains now are 4-0 and sit all alone atop the Kaw Valley League standings. The Chieftains last were 4-0 in the 1960s when they went undefeated.

In Kansas City, the Chiefs also are 4-0. Tied with Denver for first place in the AFC West, Kansas City has opened the season with four wins just one other time in franchise history. Kansas City and Denver clash Sunday in Kansas City.

My alma mater, Class 2A Washington, also is 4-0. That likely is a first for the Tigers, who have just a handful of playoff appearances to their credit.

Don't forget Kansas, which finished 2-10 last season but has surged to a 4-1 record after defeating then-No. 23 Missouri on Saturday before a sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.

After wondering a year ago whether the program would ever come out of its slumber, many fans are entertaining thoughts of a bowl game come December or January.

And, last but far from least on my list -- the Chicago Cubs, who left me in a state of euphoria after they secured a playoff berth the same day KU handled Mizzou.

The cute, harmless team from the Windy City that exists so people can visit Wrigley Field has won its first pennant since 1989. The celebration began Saturday when the team clinched the division, but the Cubs now must face mighty Atlanta in a National League Division Series.

Oh, for the team's first World Series appearance since 1945.

Hey, after the way this fall is unfolding, I'm almost banking on it.

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They're here, they're there and now, just about any venue a Tonganoxie High team has played.

The Chieftazzlerz BaDazzlerz, an impromptu THS pep club, made an appearance at Thursday's Tonganoxie Invitational at the Tonganoxie cross country course.

Sure, the team has been to every football game, but that's the sport that gets the most attention and is played when most fans can attend.

Cross country, meanwhile doesn't have the luxury of lights. Meets usually start between 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. during the week, times that fans and fellow athletes can't always make.

That wasn't the case for the flag-toting group, which wore its personally decorated shirts and jeans to the invitational.

I've not seen the group at a soccer game -- yet. After all, most members are volleyball players and they usually compete the same night as the soccer team.

Football players attend volleyball games, volleyball, soccer and cross country members come out for football games and now volleyball members have hit a cross country meet.

That's some refreshing support that's not always found within high school athletics departments.

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Anyone attending Friday's football game in Leavenworth against Immaculata witnessed a great moment in Tonganoxie football history.

Sure, the Chieftains improved to 4-0, but another great event happened in the closing seconds.

Tonganoxie led 42-7 with less than a minute to play. Students were chanting "48, 48, 48" as the game clock ticked below one minute.

I initially thought fans were encouraging another Chieftain touchdown, which would have made the score 48-7. But the chant was in reference to a jersey number, the one belonging to freshman Tyler Thomas.

When Coach Mark Elston motioned for Thomas to enter the game, it all made sense. On the Tonganoxie roster, Thomas is listed as a 90-pounder, measuring 4-foot-10.

Playing football with those statistics can be difficult, but Thomas made a varsity appearance on defense.

Unfortunately, time expired before Immaculata could run another play.

If the Chieftains continue to post wins this season, Thomas might get more opportunities to play varsity ball.

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