Tonganoxie High Football History 101
Tonganoxie High hopes to keep moving forward in a season of firsts for the Chieftains.
With the Chieftains’ regional championship this past Friday against Spring Hill, this year’s installment of THS football accomplished two things for the first time in program history — Tonganoxie won a second playoff game in a season and notched 10 wins in a single season.
But as Tonganoxie hopes to keep this year’s ride moving forward as the other seven teams still alive in Class 4A also hope to do, we look back at the best seasons in THS history, with the help of a THS alum and former Chieftain quarterback.
Jeff Hughes, a 2007 THS graduate, has made being a “local football historian” a bit of a hobby.
Though he still is working to connect the dots from some seasons in the 1930s (THS did not play football from 1942-45), he has a pretty extensive list of THS football team records.
The Mirror asked Hughes to compile a list of some of the top teams in program history, along with a look at the team’s playoff history. Kansas didn’t
Hughes, whose father Steve also was head coach of the Chieftains, said that it appears Tonganoxie’s first season of football was 1908.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association didn’t start crowning state champions until 1969. Steve was an assistant and then head coach in the 1970s and returned to be head coach from 1988-99.
THS made its first playoff appearance in 1975 against — who else? — Bishop Miege.
At the time, the school was known as St. Joseph’s and Tonganoxie won a thriller. THS won the district game, 35-34, in 3 overtimes. The Chieftains then fell, 16-9, to Wamego in the regional round.
The following list shows the years in which the Chieftains won eight or more games (19) and a rundown of playoff appearances (15).
TOP THS TEAMS
1950 - 8-1
1951 - 8-0
1956 - 8-1
1962 - 9-0
1963 - 8-1
1971 - 8-1 (Pioneer League Champions)
1972 - 8-1
1975 - 9-2 (Pioneer League, District Champions)
1983 - 8-1 (Kaw Valley League Champions)
1991 - 8-2 (Kaw Valley League, District Champions)
1992 - 8-3 (District, Bi-District Champions)
1995 - 8-3 (District, Bi-District Champions)
2003 - 8-2 (Kaw Valley League Champions)
2004 - 9-2 (District, Bi-District Champions)
2005 - 9-2 (Kaw Valley League, District, Bi-District Champions)
2006 - 8-2 (Kaw Valley League Champions)
2013 - 9-2 (District, Bi-District Champions)
2017 - 9-1 (Kaw Valley League, District Champions)
2019 - 10-0 (Frontier League Co-Champions, Regional Champions … ???)
Tonganoxie 35, St. Joseph’s 34 (3OT)
Wamego 16, Tonganoxie 9
(Wamego lost to Parsons in sub-state the following round)
Baldwin 30, Tonganoxie 8
(Baldwin went on to win the 4A State Championship and ranked No. 1 all year)
Sabetha 17, Tonganoxie 7
(Sabetha defeated Bishop Ward, 27-7, the following round in regionals and lost to Riverton, 9-6, in Sub-State)
(Tonganoxie’s first playoff game at home)
Tonganoxie 14, Piper 8
Maur Hill 42, Tonganoxie 7
(Maur Hill went on to win the 4A State Championship
Tonganoxie 14, Basehor-Linwood 6
Hiawatha 17, Tonganoxie 14
(Hiawatha would defeat Paola, 35-6 in sub-state before falling to Pratt, 13-6, in the 4A State Championship)
First year of KSHSAA allowing two representatives of the four-team districts to advance to the playoffs
Atchison 24, Tonganoxie 14
(Atchison would lose to Hayden in the following round, 34-14)
Atchison 39, Tonganoxie 0
(Atchison would again fall to Hayden the following round, 28-0)
Tonganoxie 34, Basehor-Linwood 10
Hayden 27, Tonganoxie 14
(Hayden would win the 4A State Championship that year)
Tonganoxie 18, Bishop Ward 14 (Largest playoff comeback. THS was down, 14-0, entering the fourth quarter)
Hayden 41, Tonganoxie 0 (Worst Playoff loss)
(Hayden would defeat Eudora, 42-8, before falling to Holton, 41-0 in sub-state)
Holton 20, Tonganoxie 0 (Holton ranked No. 1 all season, had won 23 consecutive coming into the game. Wildcats defeated Bishop Ward in the next round, 40-22, before falling to Paola, 28-12, in Sectionals. That ended Holton’s winning streak at 25)
Tonganoxie’s only team to reach the playoffs with a sub .500 record at 4-5
Tonganoxie 35, Atchison 28
Eudora 31, Tonganoxie 10
(Eudora would defeat Louisburg in the next round, 19-0, and beat Piper 21-7, in sub-state before falling, 21-0, to Holton in the 4A State Championship)
Tonganoxie 52, Bishop Ward 6 (Largest margin of victory in a playoff game)
Baldwin 28, Tonganoxie 10
(Baldwin entered the game ranked No. 3 in 4A and would lose the next round against Coffeyville, 38-27)
DeSoto 42, Tonganoxie 7
(Last year of districts in 4A. The following season KSHSAA considers Week 9 the first round of “Play-In” games based on seeding in East and West Brackets.)
Tonganoxie 48, Chanute 36
Paola 35, Tonganoxie 13
— Records compiled are all since World War II. Playoffs for football started in 1969.