THS held scoreless in defeat at Bishop Ward
Kansas City, Kan. Tonganoxie High coach Mark Elston admits he isn't quite the gunslinger Bishop Ward senior John Oropeza is.
"It's hard to simulate their quarterback," Elston said, referring to practice when he steps in and plays the part of the opposing quarterback. "The old man can't throw it like that. I can't do it."
Elston's troops tried to contain Oropeza during Friday's game at Bishop Ward's Dorney Field in Kansas City, Kan. But the Cyclone quarterback passed for 120 yards and ran for 44 -- 42 of which came on a touchdown scamper for Ward's first score -- as Ward went on to win, 28-0.
Although the shutout dropped THS to 0-2 on the season, Elston saw strong signs of improvement a week after being drubbed, 42-6, at Lansing in the season opener.
"We made enormous strides as far as everyone hitting on defense and flying to the ball," Elston said. "We were light years away from last week."
Ward finished the game with 375 yards of total offense compared to Tonganoxie's 213 -- 208 of which was on the ground. Ward was more balanced in its attack, rushing for 200 yards and passing for 175.
Tonganoxie went into the half down 21-0, but held Ward (1-1) scoreless in the third.
Tonganoxie's defense held its own against Ward and the Chieftains had an opportunity to get back into the game late in the third quarter when the Cyclones were forced to punt. But THS senior Chris Wallace mishandled a line-drive punt and Ward recovered in Tonganoxie territory. The Cyclones regained possession and scored seven plays later on Michael Delich's 31-yard run.
Tonganoxie, which has been plagued by injuries early on this season, was without senior Gabe Belobrajdic at tight end because of a shoulder injury. Belobrajdic still contributed on special teams with his punting duties.
With the injuries comes an even younger team taking the field. Elston said there was one point on offense when THS fielded four sophomores and a freshman
"I think they were all born in 1999 or 2000," Elston joked about the trend of youth taking the field.
But one freshman gave the Chieftains a spark.
Quarterback Jeremy Carlisle rushed for 100 yards. For two series, however, Elston brought in junior backup Zack Robinson, who the THS coach said stepped in and "did a great job." Carlisle was trying to get around to the outside on defenders rather than cutting inside through available seams.
In the second half, Carlisle was back under center and detected those seams, helping generate more offense for THS.
"To his credit he learned a lot between kickoff and halftime," Elston said. "He didn't get discouraged."
THS will play its season opener Friday against Bonner Springs.
- Bishop Ward's Dorney Field looked slightly different for the visiting Chieftains since the last time they played there in 2005. BWHS received a $50,000 grant in May 2006 from the Kansas City Chiefs through the National Football League's Grassroots Program for improvements to the stadium.
The renovation, administered by Community Housing of Wyandotte County, included a new eight-foot vinyl fence that replaced the previous barbed wire fence. In addition, it included a newly landscaped plaza and an improved irrigation system. Wrought iron fencing around some of the stadium was included in the renovation as well.
Bishop Ward raised more than $85,000 to match the Grassroots grant. The field is used for physical education and organized football and soccer, and by the Catholic Youth Organization for football and track events.
The grant was part of $2.5 million nationwide that went toward refurbishment projects in 19 cities.
Dorney Field is at 16th and Armstrong streets in Kansas City, Kan.
- Tonganoxie's loss to Bishop Ward marked its first defeat to the Cyclones since BWHS joined the Kaw Valley League in 2004. The Chieftains had won four games in a row, including an 18-14 victory in the 2005 Class 4A playoffs.
- THS coach Mark Elston still is searching for career win No. 50. He is now 49-23 at THS after Friday's loss to the Cyclones.
Bishop Ward 28, Tonganoxie 0
Score by quarters
Tonganoxie 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Bishop Ward 7 14 0 7 -- 28
How they scored
BW -- John Oropeza 42 run (Beau Stoker kick)
BW -- Michael Delich 1 run (Stoker kick)
BW -- Stoker 3 pass from Oropeza (Stoker kick)
BW -- Delich 31 run (Stoker kick)