THS principal: Last year’s Piper clash ‘an isolated incident’
The customary post-game handshake will be taking place before Friday's Tonganoxie-Piper football game in Tonganoxie.
School administrators from both schools agreed last year to have teams shake hands before this year's game.
After last year's game, which Tonganoxie won, 17-14, on a last-second field goal, tempers flared between the two teams when players and coaches met at midfield to shake hands. Tonganoxie players stayed on the field for 20 minutes before they were allowed to file onto their school bus. Security escorted the bus out of the parking lot for precautionary reasons.
Tonganoxie High School Principal Tatia Shelton said Monday that she looked for this year's game to go more smoothly.
"I'm thinking it's an isolated incident," Shelton said. "I think that we have grown a lot in our awareness since last year.
"I know that the administration and the coaches have taken a more proactive stance on sportsmanship, and I think just by being more aware with situations, like what happened last year, we can avoid those situations."
Shelton also said last month's inaugural Kaw Valley League sportsmanship summit helped raise sportsmanship awareness.
"The sportsmanship summit really put it in the forefront of everyone's mind that the standards are high," Shelton said. "I think now everybody is really kind of focused. It really set the stage."
During the last few years, Piper and Tonganoxie have played some exciting games.
During the last five meetings, the largest margin of victory was 12 points. Tonganoxie holds a 3-2 advantage in those games.
THS won, 26-14 in 2000, and 17-14 in 2001. Piper then won, 7-0, in 2002 and 17-14 in overtime in 2003 before Tonganoxie won, 17-14, last season.
With so many successive games being so closely contested, the showdown has created some excitement. But Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston doesn't perceive the game as any different from the other eight regular-season games this fall.
"Every game's a rivalry," Elston said.
As for last year's post-game incident, he didn't put much stock in it.
"It was the heat of the moment," Elston said.