Injured senior excited to take the field
Tonganoxie's Ryan Bennett played during the last two downs of the Nov. 1 playoff game against Bishop Ward at a position he'd never played during his football career.
Those two plays, however, meant the world to Bennett.
The team's starting center when the 2005 season started, Bennett was three games into his senior year when he broke his foot, in a game against Piper.
With crutches under his arms and a cast on his foot, Bennett watched from the sidelines during much of the season as the Chieftains rattled off win after win.
Bennett was like an additional assistant coach, helping younger linemen with tips on how to block better or how to pick up a blitz.
The senior kept hoping doctors would remove his cast and clear him to play before the season ended.
Finally, on Oct. 31, the cast came off and Bennett had the use of both feet again.
With seconds left in the first-round playoff game against Bishop Ward, Bennett was back on the field.
The lineman gathered in the Tonganoxie huddle and then ran to the line of scrimmage -- as a receiver.
Bennett's wish came true. He was back on the field his senior year.
"My heart was just pounding through my chest pretty hard," Bennett said. "I can't describe it. That's all I have to say."
And it didn't matter that Bennett didn't get the opportunity to hike the ball to quarterback Jeff Hughes and block a defensive lineman. He was back on the field one last time.
"It might not seem like much to some people, but it meant a lot to me getting in," Bennett said.
Although Tonganoxie won a thriller against Ward, the Chieftains couldn't win a second playoff game. Hayden ended Tonganoxie's season Saturday with a 41-0 victory.
Although Bennett was able to get in for a couple plays against Ward, the injury wasn't healed enough to play a full game. He returned to the sidelines against Hayden, cheering on his teammates, some of whom were seniors like Bennett.
"I just wish I would have had the privilege of playing with the guys one last time," Bennett said, his voice trembling slightly.