Jaguars’ standout, turnovers doom THS
The number "6" in football instantly is associated with a touchdown for anyone involved with the sport.
Tonganoxie desperately needed the conventional "6" on Friday against Mill Valley at home.
Instead, the Chieftains encountered the number in a more damaging manner -- as in six turnovers.
THS coughed up the ball four times on fumbles and had two interceptions in a 21-14 setback against the Jaguars. The loss marked Tonganoxie's first of the season as the Chieftains fell to 3-1 on the season.
"We allowed them the short field," THS coach Mark Elston said.
Mill Valley spent plenty of time on Tonganoxie's side of the field. With standout running back David Woods in the backfield, that didn't bode well for THS.
Woods amassed 213 yards against Tonganoxie's stingy defense.
"We haven't faced any runners that are quite that fast," Elston said.
One of Tonganoxie's turnovers didn't help the cause, either. With Tonganoxie driving, THS junior running back Matt Drake fumbled on the Mill Valley 33.
On the next play, Woods broke through the Tonganoxie line and secondary for a 77-yard scamper that put the Jaguars up by two touchdowns.
Quarterback Ross Starcher, who slightly separated his shoulder in the second half, scored in the third and fourth quarters. But the final THS touchdown made the score 21-14 after a Mill Valley touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
In that final quarter, Mill Valley had a 14-7 lead and the ball inside the Tonganoxie 5 when Woods jumped over the pile at the goal line in hopes of another touchdown. Zach Ditty however stripped the ball from Woods in midair
and prevented the Jaguar score. THS, however, fumbled on their ensuing possession and Mill Valley capitalized on that miscue.
The Chieftains just couldn't provide any of their late-minute heroics as they did against Piper a week before when the team won in the final seconds of the game.
Of course, Tonganoxie was playing with No. 3 and No. 4 fullbacks against the Jaguars.
With BT Fleming still out with a knee injury and Brandon Willis lost for most of the season because of a damaged MCL, the Chieftains had to bring senior workhorse Kaleb Lawrence into the mix.
Lawrence, who also is one of the team's key linebackers, had to platoon on both sides Friday.
Injuries forced Elston to play with a younger squad on the field. At one point, Elston said he noticed only one senior on the field.
Despite the short-handed squad, the Chieftains still outgained Mill Valley in the rushing department. Mill Valley had 55 carries for 249 yards; THS had 55 carries for 289. Tyler Miles again was Tonganoxie's go-to receiver. The sophomore had five catches for 45 yards.
Still, with six turnovers, it's hard to pull out a victory.
"The kids fought hard and played hard," Elston said.
Tonganoxie (3-1 overall and 3-1 in the Kaw Valley League) will travel to the Overbrook/Carbondale area for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Santa Fe Trail. The Chargers are 1-3 on the season.
Mill Valley 21, Tonganoxie 14
Mill Valley (3-1, 2-0) 7 7 0 7 -- 21
Tonganoxie (3-1, 3-1) 0 0 7 7 -- 14
How they scored
MV -- David Woods 2 run (Zac King kick)
MV -- Woods 77 fun (King kick)
T -- Ross Starcher 1 run (Jeff Hughes kick)
MV -- Ryan Gracy 12 pass from Trev Scott (King kick)
T -- Starcher 6 run (Hughes kick)