Linenberger: Tonganoxie football has opportunity of lifetime
It’s time to talk about the large male deer in the room.
Yes, instead of discussing the elephant in your living room, I’m referring to the Stags, the Bishop Miege mascot that will be figuratively standing in the middle of Tonganoxie’s living room. And by living room, I mean Beatty Field.
Tonganoxie High will play its biggest game in the school’s long football history against one of the most decorated programs in the state.
Miege has nine state championships — Lawrence High has the state record with 10.
Miege is a state title away from LHS because the Stags have won five straight Class 4A state titles.
Miege last lost to a public school on Sept. 2, 2016. That was to 6A’s Blue Valley. The Tigers also defeated the Stags Sept. 18, 2015.
Miege last lost to a 4A school in 2008. The defeat came in the playoffs, a 33-18 loss to Baldwin.
The past two years, Miege hasn’t played a 4A school until the playoffs. With the new playoff format, 4A no longer has districts, so gone is the requirement for 4A schools on a regular-season slate.
In Miege’s defense, it also might be a struggle assembling a schedule. Teams likely aren’t clamoring to add them to their list of regular-season opponents.
There are efforts to update how schools are placed in their respective classes. Private-school formulas that mirror neighboring states might make their way to KSHSAA one day, but it won’t change tonight’s game.
But you know what?
If my rickety-old football-weathered knees could get in a DeLorean and travel back to my high school days with a chance to represent my team and knock off one of the best teams in the state, I’m pretty sure I’d know my decision.
“Make sure the flux capacitor is all set, Doc.”
Who wouldn’t want the chance to get the attention of the entire state?
Heck yes, sign me up, and get my pre game playlist assembled.
Cue that scene from “Hoosiers” when the Hickory Huskers are in the locker room at Butler Fieldhouse and about to play the big-time team from South Bend.
“Let’s win this one for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here.”
(Sure, Indiana basketball crowned just one state champion back then, but play along).
Cue a “Rocky” montage, any “Rocky” montage. “There’s no easy way out. There’s no shortcut home.” OK, play “No Easy Way Out” and then go with the Rocky montage on the Soviet Russia farmstead covered in feet and feet of snow.
Tonight’s game doesn’t necessarily come along every day, no matter where you are.
This is the first time Tonganoxie has advanced this far into the playoffs.
Last week marked the first time in school history the Chieftains won a second playoff game in one season.
And while Miege has built an impressive resume, Tonganoxie again has become an up-and-comer with some solid credentials of its own.
THS is 10-0 for the first time in program history and completed its second undefeated season in three years. The last time before 2017 was 55 years before.
Tonganoxie also has won or shared a league title in those two undefeated regular seasons.
Even if you are the most casual fan or sports ball isn’t really your jams, this story has a pretty great plot.
And with packed bleachers on Beatty Field’s west side will come a noisy and exciting atmosphere.
Tonganoxie has a chance to make even more history tonight. A victory would advance THS in the playoffs for another home game at Beatty Field next week, with a shot at the state title game on the line in that game.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?