THS responds to lineup shift
THS football shuts out PLHS
The Tonganoxie High football team used a stellar defensive effort on Friday night to beat Perry-Lecompton, 14-0.
The Tonganoxie High football team had plenty of choices if it was looking for motivational inspiration on Friday against Perry-Lecompton.
There was the highly disappointing, three-point homecoming loss the previous week. Or the fact the Chieftains lost by 49 the last time they faced the Kaws.
But what really fired up the team was the changes the THS staff made to the lineup, putting seven players in new starting roles.
The Chieftains got the message and responded with a 14-0 victory in their Kaw Valley League opener at Beatty Field.
THS coach Mark Elston said the changes came “because guys got after it in practice and they deserved to start.” Elston was simply rewarding the players who responded to an intense week of practice.
“We hit harder than we did all season and the coaches were fired up,” Elston said.
In turn, the Chieftains turned out a masterful defensive performance.
Jason Espeland lost his starting defensive end spot after showing up late to a film session. Jeremie Maus didn’t start in Tonganoxie’s offensive backfield. Both seemed to take their respective demotions to heart as they made a habit of applying pressure behind the line of scrimmage against the Kaws. Maus, a linebacker, and Espeland both had multiple tackles for loss.
“They were a little hacked off and they figured it out real quick,” Elston said, referring to the importance of intensity in practice.
Maus and Espeland combined on a quarterback pressure in the third quarter to force one of the Chieftains’ four takeaways on the night.
“Everyone was flying to the ball,” Maus said of the Chieftains defense, which limited the Kaws to 158 yards of total offense.
Two of the team’s new defensive starters — Jeff Sims and Shawn Marin — came away with a turnover as well.
Sims’ pick and return in the final minute of the first quarter set up Tonganoxie’s first scoring drive of the game. In the fourth quarter, Marin grabbed an interception in the end zone and returned it 38 yards.
Dylan Scates had the team’s final takeaway with 3:01 left in the game after PLHS picked up a first down. Scates broke up a pass on the right sideline and it fell into his arms for an interception as he headed out of bounds.
Elston said the entire defense stepped up following the lineup changes.
“They responded really well with a fantastic defensive effort, forcing turnovers,” the 10th-year THS coach said. “Hopefully that got them shook up and got them fired up to play.”
The Chieftains (2-1 overall, 1-0 KVL) gave the THS staff credit for having the defense ready.
“They were getting on us about our defense, which was bad against Osawatomie,” said Espeland, referring to the 36 points THS allowed the week before.
Marin said the coaches had the defense ready for the Kaws’ pass attack.
“Our coaches make us work on reading passes a lot, so that had a lot to do with it,” Marin said after helping THS hold Perry-Lecompton to 88 yards through the air on 23 passes.
Tonganoxie didn’t rack up the kind of offensive yardage it had the first two weeks in the 14-point victory, but quarterback Jeremy Carlisle, who rushed for both THS scores, said that didn’t matter, giving the defense credit for the win.
“The defense brought it all night and shutout a team that beat us 56-7 last year,” Carlisle noted of the talented, senior-laden 2008 Kaws team that was runner-up in the Class 4A playoffs.
Although he had a few big runs and was able to hit Scates, Justin Jacobs and DJ Lindsay for large gains through the air, Carlisle said he would like to see more from the Tonganoxie offense.
“Offensively, there’s a lot of things we could get done better,” he said, “but we came out with a ‘W.’”
The Chieftains will look for another win with a 7 p.m. road game Friday at K.C. Wyandotte.
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