Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Handshakes set mood for THS, Piper
It was a crisp and cool Friday night last week when Tonganoxie and Piper met at Beatty Field for their annual football game.
It was a beautiful night for football in a game between two teams that have had some dandy contests in recent years.
As many people know, last year's game ended with some conflict as personnel from both teams had issues with their Kaw Valley League counterparts.
Words were exchanged and tempers flared. For this year's game, administrators at both schools decided players and coaches should shake hands before the game instead of after the game, the customary post-game routine.
The pre-game gesture seemed to work.
The teams played hard against each other, but penalties such as personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct were nearly non-existent. Sure, there might have been a personal foul, but it was a roughing the kicker or passer or a face-mask penalty.
As has been the case in recent years, the game was a dead heat in the first half. The teams went into halftime in a 7-7 deadlock. It was expected that the second half wouldn't be much different.
That, however, wasn't the case. Tonganoxie exploded for four more touchdowns as the Chieftains handed Piper a 32-7 defeat.
But that was that.
From the press box, both teams appeared to be playing the game as it should be -- with hard hits and maximum effort. No excessive showboating, just good old hard-nosed football.
Some people didn't put much stock into last year's incident, noting that sometimes emotions get the best of people. It also was thought -- and hoped -- last year's scenario was an isolated incident.
After watching Friday's game, that appears that, indeed, was the case.
Players and coaches on both sides deserve praise.
Fans in the stands watched a high-quality game, while fans at home caught an exciting game on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6's replay, shown after the game Friday and Saturday morning.
For Tonganoxie coach Mark Elston, he was able to relax a little bit more against Piper.
Not that the game didn't cause the sixth-year coach plenty of stress, but after losing to Lansing, 14-10, and defeating Ward, 7-0, a 25-point victory does wonders for a high school coach's heart rate.
For reporters, those tight games are fun to watch and subsequently write about, but that obviously is a different story for the coaches.
With this 2005 edition of Chieftain football, it appears likely the season will bring more great games -- whether the margin of victory is five or 25. With games approaching against teams such as Mill Valley, De Soto and Perry-Lecompton, more exciting games should be approaching in coming weeks.
Friday's game went on without incident, for which players should be commended.
Their actions proved there's nothing quite like Friday night football.