Chieftains drop final game of season at Jeff West
Meriden The Tonganoxie High football team ended its season with a 20-14 loss at Jefferson West on Thursday night.
The 14 that stood on that scoreboard at the end of the game could have been more for Tonganoxie, according to coach Mark Elston.
"We could have put 50 on the board tonight," Elston said.
Instead, Tonganoxie (1-8) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and couldn't score for the remainder of the game.
"We had a lot of fire and a lot of passion and we were playing like it was the last game of the season," Elston said about the first quarter. "We're capable of it. But we didn't play with urgency every play like we did the first quarter and like we did on the last defensive drive. Hopefully the young guys learn that every play has the potential to be the play of the game."
Tonganoxie trailed, 20-14, in the final quarter, and had the ball on its own 30-yard line. Three consecutive runs of three yards presented a fourth-and-1 for the Chieftains at their own 39. Running back Ian McClellan took the handoff, but the Tigers stopped the freshman short of the first down marker.
Elston referred to Tonganoxie's final defensive series as being a positive one. After Jefferson West took over on downs, it moved the ball to the THS 13-yard line. After eight tries, the Tonganoxie defense forced an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Tonganoxie had the ball with just less than two minutes remaining. It was the first time in his young career that freshman quarterback Jeremy Carlisle had a chance to lead THS to victory in the two-minute drill.
The drive started well with the freshman under center. Senior running back Kevin Gill ran for six yards, then senior Isiah Sawyer ran for 13. Sophomore Jeremie Maus ran for another 14, then Carlisle hit senior Gabe Belobrajdic for 12 yards at the 57-second mark.
Tonganoxie got all the way to the Jeff West 36-yard line, but ran out of time. A holding penalty backed up THS and Carlisle had nowhere to go with two seconds remaining on the last play.
"It shows when kids are faced with that situation, they are able to accomplish things," Elston said about THS moving the ball in the final two minutes. "But our problem is that we never came out with that urgency every time we were in a drive. The second and third quarter, we didn't grab that urgency that's needed every time you touch the ball."
Tonganoxie will lose 17 seniors from this year's team. Elston gave many underclassmen playing time this year, though.
"It's tough for the seniors because the majority of them put on the pads for the last time," Elston said. "Football's the only sport where after high school, you can't go play it in full pads anywhere. You can play baseball, basketball or any other sport you want until you're 50, 60 or 70 years old. Football's the only one where there's a definite line that says, 'You are done. You are not going to play this game anymore.' The finality of it can be very devastating to kids because it's something that they've done for a long time and all of a sudden, you're never going to get to do that again. That's why a lot of us coach, because we don't ever want to give it up. It's always sad to see kids end on a note like this, but they can learn from it."
Scoring by quarter
Tonganoxie 14 0 0 0 -- 14
Jefferson West 0 14 6 0 -- 20
T -- Kevin Gill 7 run (two-point conversion failed)
T -- Jeremy Carlisle 59 run (Carlisle run)
JW -- Garrett Stewart 1 run (kick failed)
JW -- Charlie Smith 1 pass from Kyle Sanders (Stewart run)
JW -- Stewart 19 fumble return (kick failed)