Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: THS teams must look to future
It's now been nearly two weeks since the Eudora Cardinals won their first state volleyball crown.
The Cardinals finished the season with a 40-7 record, but two of those losses came against Tonganoxie, which had aspirations of joining Eudora in Salina for the Class 4A state tournament.
Instead, Holton, a team THS also beat earlier in the season, defeated THS in the substate finals and advanced to state.
Tonganoxie now has six bridesmaid dresses in its closet, taking second at substate the last six years.
It's been a tough obstacle to climb, but it's not hard to imagine the Chieftains advancing to the state tournament for several years to come.
Yes, THS arguably had one of its best teams, and subsequently, best shots at a state tournament this year, but the Chieftains have been consistent winners the last few years under coaches Tiffany and Brandon Parker, who transformed the program from one of instability with a string of a new coach every year, to six years and counting with the same coaching leadership.
In addition, the Chieftains have put together a solid string of winning seasons, which, again, hadn't been seen in the few previous years.
Now it's time to turn another corner.
The team has come so close on several occasions. Each of those experiences, though, just gets a team hungrier for the next season.
Here's to hoping THS will be wearing the bride's dress in October 2007 in Salina's Bicentennial Center.
Tonganoxie High's football team is in the same spot as the volleyball squad. The Chieftains have assembled a string of successful seasons in the last four years, winning eight games two of those season and nine in the other two.
Unfortunately for THS, the dream season ends with an exit in the first or second round of the playoffs.
Granted, meeting Atchison, Hayden or Holton in one of those two rounds the last six years isn't an easy obstacle to overcome, but not an out-of-the-question hurdle, either.
Tonganoxie lost 20-0 to Holton on Oct. 31 and was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, but the score could have been considerably closer. If Tonganoxie could have avoided some special teams' misfortunes, THS might have been in business. Long snapper Kevin Gill was injured early in the game. With the experienced Gill out of the lineup, one snap sailed over punter Jeff Hughes' head and another punt was blocked. Those unfortunate miscues turned into nine points for the Wildcats.
Again, experience can only help in the future, which could get better for THS in the playoffs.
I wouldn't be surprised if Cardinal fans still are celebrating along the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
It's been a couple weeks since the Cardinals won the World Series by defeating the Detroit Tigers, clinching the franchise's first World Series title since 1982.
Winning just 83 games in the regular season, St. Louis now has the lowest number of wins of any Major League Baseball team to win a World Series.
The Cardinals didn't just squeak past the heavily favored Tigers, St. Louis won best-of-seven series, 4-1.
Coincidentally, that was how the NBA finals ended in June 2005 when
the Detroit Pistons finished off the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that was predicted to easily breeze through the Pistons toward yet another NBA crown for that franchise.
Here's a tip: When analysts on ESPN and other networks all are picking one team to run away with a series, bet on the underdog.
Just ask the Cardinals and Pistons whether that's a good plan.