Chieftains suffer 6-point setback
Bonner Springs In the past two weeks, the emotions of the Tonganoxie High football team have run the gamut.
If the Chieftains were feeling “ecstatic,” as coach Mark Elston said, after a double-overtime win Oct. 3, the feeling was equally “excruciating” following a six-point loss to St. James Academy on Saturday afternoon.
After a 14-play, 71-yard drive to open the game at David Jaynes Stadium, it appeared THS had set the tone against St. James Academy, but senior quarterback Zack Robinson’s 12-yard touchdown run with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter proved to be the Chieftains’ only score as THS lost to the Thunder, 13-7.
Senior THS lineman Jamie Everett, who played almost every snap of the game on both sides of the ball, said the loss was disappointing.
“It’s very upsetting,” he said. “We were right in the game the whole way until the fourth quarter. A few mistakes — that’s what cost us the game.”
Immediately after the defeat, Robinson, who threw an interception with 1:38 to go on Tonganoxie’s final possession, said the Chieftains were in the dumps.
“We’re all pretty down,” he said, “but we’ll bounce back from it. We’ll be OK.”
Tonganoxie (4-2), it seemed, had really harnessed the game’s momentum when, following Robinson’s score, sophomore Tucker Hollingsworth recovered his own squib kick, which St. James (4-2) couldn’t handle. But a fumbled exchange under center by the Chieftains on the very next play gave the ball right back to the Thunder.
The Chieftains went three-and-out on their next three possessions and, after obtaining three first-downs on the opening drive, didn’t pick up another one until the final play of the first half.
Not that any of the Chieftains were using it as an excuse, but there was a drastic change to their lineup in the first quarter. Subsequent to intercepting a pass on the final play of the first quarter thanks to great backfield pressure on SJA quarterback Jim Getto by senior THS lineman Bill Seymour, sophomore safety Jeremy Carlisle aggravated an injury to his right shoulder and was sidelined for the remainder of the game. THS also lost senior lineman Shawn Roberts in the first quarter because of a concussion.
Tonganoxie athletics trainer Mark Padfield said Carlisle suffered a grade-II separation to his acromioclavicular joint and Roberts, who was knocked unconscious on the field, had a grade-III concussion.
Elston said, due to the injuries, part of the THS game plan “went up in smoke in the first quarter” because the team wasn’t able to run some plays it had put in for running back Carlisle (two carries for 14 yards) and lineman Roberts, who Elston hoped to use as a tight end.
THS had even more offensive struggles in the second half, compiling just 43 yards from scrimmage and picking up three first downs. Elston took the blame for the lack of offense.
“Offensively, I didn’t do a very good job of calling plays,” he said, explaining that he tried to put in some things at halftime that the team hadn’t practiced in order to adapt to the SJA defense.
Tied at 7 in the fourth quarter, the biggest play of the game came on the longest play from scrimmage. Thunder running back Avril Morrisette ran 77 yards down the left sideline and, on the following play, ran five more yards for the go-ahead score with 7:18 remaining.
Asked if the huge run was the difference in the game, Robinson refused to put the loss on that single play.
“I wouldn’t blame it on anybody,” he said. “It’s kind of a group deal. It’s not the offense’s fault, not the defense’s fault, it’s everybody.”
With a home rivalry game against Basehor-Linwood (2-4) that also marks the beginning of district play looming on Friday, Robinson said he thinks the team will have no problem bouncing back from its second loss, even with a short week.
Everett said THS would make all the necessary adjustments to correct mistakes and have a solid week of practice in preparation for the 7 p.m. contest at Beatty Field.
“Everybody’s going to be excited for this,” Everett said. “I’ve heard people talking about this since before homecoming.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
THS 7 0 0 0 — 7
SJA 0 7 0 6 — 13
THS: Zack Robinson 13-56, Jeremie Maus 11-23, Austen Holloway 8-16, D.J. Lindsay 5-16, Jeremy Carlisle 2-14, Tucker Hollingsworth 2-6.
THS: Robinson 4-9-66, interception.
THS: Dylan Scates 1-42, Justin Jacobs 2-19, Maus 1-5.
HOW THEY SCORED
(6:34) Zack Robinson, THS, 12 run. Robinson kick. (Tonganoxie 7, St. James 0).
(4:17) Dan Baird, SJA, 25 pass from Jim Getto. Christian Mata kick. (Tonganoxie 7, St. James 7).
(7:18) Avril Morrisette, SJA, 5 run. Getto sacked on two-point conversion. (St. James, 13, Tonganoxie 7).
Tonganoxie’s Friday night contest with Basehor-Linwood (2-4) will be televised on a tape-delay basis on Sunflower Broadband Ch. 6 at 10:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. The game, once aired, can also be viewed any time via Sunflower On Demand.