Elston displeased with tackling in 34-13 home loss to Perry
Tonganoxie High football coach Mark Elston has occasionally been satisfied with his team's physicality this season, even in losses.
In Friday night's 34-13 home loss to Perry-Lecompton in the first round of district play, Elston was anything but satisfied.
"That's not how you play football in Tongie," Elston said. "Tongie football's been known for having tough kids who want to hit. We got punched in the mouth and we just accepted it instead of doing something about it."
A main reason for Tonganoxie's struggles stemmed from Perry's balanced offensive attack. Quarterback Shane Gimzo rushed for 78 yards and two scores, while running back Caleb Denton added 111 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
"It's not hard to scheme against," Elston said. "If you don't tackle, they'll gain 800 yards. Our tackling was pathetic."
Of course, Elston exaggerated the 800 figure, but Perry outgained Tonganoxie, 378 to 276, in total offense.
Gimzo, who was 8-of-16 in the air for 126 yards, also connected on two touchdown passes.
Many of Tonganoxie's missed tackles came from defenders trying to hit Perry players too high. According to senior lineman Drew Scates, the Chieftains have practiced all year to avoid that.
"I noticed we weren't hitting people in the thigh pads and right in the knees," Scates said. "If we would have hit them right in the knees, they would have went down. All they were doing was spinning and moving, so we needed to just put our eyes on them and hit them."
Offensively, Tonganoxie showed it had big-play ability. For instance, freshman quarterback Jeremy Carlisle hit senior Gabe Belobrajdic on a 68-yard strike down the left sideline with 9:30 remaining in the first quarter. The touchdown tied the game at seven.
Carlisle showed how dangerous he could be for years to come with a 77-yard touchdown run in the final quarter. Carlisle followed his blocks along the right sideline, then burst through the seam and outran the PLHS secondary to the end zone.
"He's got speed and I keep telling him on the sidelines that he's a weapon -- don't be afraid to run the ball," Elston said of Carlisle. "We have to get him out there in space because he's very quick. He just has to get more confident. But he's learning. This was what -- his seventh game as a quarterback?"
Indeed, Carlisle, who played running back last year in middle school, made the seventh start of his high school career. He operated out of the shotgun formation for the majority of the second half. This was because of the speed of Denton, who played linebacker for Perry defensively.
"Caleb Denton might be the best blitzer I've ever seen," Elston said. "When we were under center, it made it very difficult to stop his penetration. The shotgun gave Jeremy a little better vision back there, because he's not really tall."
Tonganoxie (1-6) will likely have to win its next two district games to make the playoffs. THS will play host to Atchison (2-5) Friday at Beatty Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Atchison defeated Jefferson West, 26-14, Friday. Tonganoxie will have its last game of district play on Oct. 25 at Jefferson West (3-4).
"We're going to bring our 'A' game for both games," Scates said. "We're going to play hardcore, hard-nosed football. We're going to hit them hard, run the ball on them and block. We just need to cut down on the mental errors and play smart football."