Power running game produces first Chieftains victory
Kevin Gill won't have to shave his head, but he's still going through with a drastic hair-do change.
The Tonganoxie High senior running back was one of a handful of THS senior football players who pledged at last week's homecoming bonfire to shave his head if THS lost to Santa Fe Trail on Friday.
The challenge also stipulated that if the football team won, THS principal Jamie Carlisle and a slew of other administrators and instructors would have their hair buzzed off.
Tonganoxie won its homecoming game against Santa Fe Trail, 19-6, which meant the THS players -- and coach Mark Elston -- were off the hook.
But Gill said after Friday's game that he planned to have his hair groomed in the form of a skullett, which according to the online "urban dictionary," is bald on top with hair around the sides and back of the head.
Gill said the skullett was a "side bet," and that because the Chieftains won, he won the bet and all its winnings -- in the form of a skullett.
On Friday, though, all of that didn't matter.
Gill capped Tonganoxie's opening drive, a 12-play, 73-yard march, with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Cameron Adcox's point-after kick pushed Tonganoxie to a 7-0 lead.
Tonganoxie's defense came through on the ensuing Charger possession, holding Santa Fe Trail to 19 yards.
On the next drive, Gill was at it again. Only this time, it was on the third play of the drive -- a 70-yard touchdown run.
"They weren't wrapping me up," Gill said, reflecting on the long touchdown run. "On that one play, I remember breaking a couple tackles and going to the cut-back lane. It was tunnel vision and straight to the end zone."
The Tonganoxie sideline was additionally pumped on the ensuing kickoff.
Adcox kicked a short kick that went beyond the required 10 yards.
Fellow senior Marshall Miller blocked a Santa Fe Trail player who was near the ball allowing the Chieftains to recover.
Adcox said the ball usually is supposed to go 20 to 25 yards instead.
"That was kind of an error that turned out in our favor," Adcox said. "That's probably something in a million years I couldn't do again."
Elston praised Miller for his work.
"Marshall Miller had a heck of a hit," Elston said. "He did exactly what we ask."
"This week was the first week the kids have done exactly what we asked them to do," Elston said.
Tonganoxie had been searching for its first victory of the season, as it entered the homecoming game at 0-4. The last four years, the Chieftains lost just two games each of those seasons. But this year's squad is dealing with several injuries and more youth than in recent years.
On Friday, THS resembled those previous teams, as the squad marched up and down the field with a strong running game.
Gill finished with 12 carries for 139 yards, while Jeremie Maus registered 87 yards on 10 carries.
In the third quarter, Maus racked up most of his yards in a nine-play, 80-yard drive. The sophomore had a carry of 21 yards and then his next three carries were for nine yards each. Two of those runs were back-to-back, with his final run being five yards that put THS at the SFT one-yardline. THS quarterback Jamie Carlisle scored on the next play and Tonganoxie held a 19-0 lead.
Tonganoxie ran more plays out of the shotgun against Santa Fe Trail than it had previously. Against Mill Valley the week before, field position prevented THS from using the formation, Elston said.
It also allowed the Chieftains to mix it up slightly with the pass, as Carlisle went 3-for-6, finding Isiah Sawyer for 14 yards, Gabe Belobrajdic for 13 and Maus for 12.
It spread the defense out and that led to more running," Carlisle said. "Our running backs and offensive line performed extremely well tonight."
Elston also credited Carlisle and his players up front with calling audibles when needed.
"They got us in some great plays when some plays we called weren't going to work," Elston said.
Cody Godshall's 2-yard run in the fourth quarter put SFT on the board, but Tonganoxie held on for the victory.
In addition, Elston got to hold on to his hair because his group won the bonfire bet.
"That was not going to be fun at home," Elston said. "I think I would have been sleeping on the couch for a while. I'm short and fat, and bald doesn't add up either.
"That's no good. I'm not too sharp looking and a bald scalp on me is ugly, but I'm sure glad it's (Jamie) Carlisle and not me."
Tonganoxie next will play Basehor-Linwood on Friday in Basehor.
"I think the intensity is going to be even higher," Gill said of next week's clash. "Especially on the road. Intensity of 120 percent; it's just going to be crazy."
Elston gets win No. 50
Friday's win marked Mark Elston's 50th at THS.
He is now 50-25 and is in his eighth season at Tonganoxie.
"Well, a couple more and I'll catch my age," Elston quipped. "It's great. But that's a testament to the assistant coaches and all the players that I've had in the past and all the support that we've had in the past.
"It really doesn't have much to do with me. But I've had good kids and kids willing to do what we've asked. And kids tonight showed that if they do what we ask them to do, things work out for them."