Former Tonganoxie High standout returning to alma mater in unique position for playoff clash
Mason Beach has found his way back to his old stomping grounds.
But the Tonganoxie High alum who enjoyed much success in front of the home crowd at Beatty Field will be roaming the opposite sideline tonight.
Beach, a 2018 THS graduate, is the quarterbacks coach at Lansing, and the Lions will be in Tonganoxie to take on the Chieftains at 7 p.m. for a Class 4A regional playoff clash.
“I’ve given plenty of thought to it,” Beach said earlier this week. “It will be weird being on the other sideline.
“It probably will take me a second to get comfortable over there. I think it will be a change. It will be fun to play a guy like Coach (Al) Troyer. Coach (Matt) Bond always has that team ready defensively.”
Troyer enters the game with a 51-30 record in his nine seasons at THS, including a 9-1 season in Beach’s senior campaign in 2017.
That year THS finished off a perfect undefeated regular season with Beach at quarterback. He also set a school record for passing touchdowns with 34 that year.
Interestingly enough, current senior Blake Poje broke Beach’s single-season record this past Friday in a 48-28 victory against Labette County in the Week 9 playoff round. Poje threw for three touchdowns, with the third putting him at 35 for the season.
Poje was a freshman when Beach was a senior.
“He’s been tearing it up over there and he’s doing well at quarterback,” Beach said about Poje. “i’m happy for him … Of course, we also want to stop them Friday.”
It should be an exciting matchup Friday with the quarterbacks, as Lansing also has a pretty solid player in Caden Crawford. The Lions’ senior is getting looks from several D-1 programs, as Crawford also is a standout linebacker at LHS. That D-I list includes Kansas State and Nebraska.
“He’s a beast,” Beach said. “He’s a great kid and great athlete.”
Beach is slated to graduate from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth next spring.
He signed with the Spires to play football, but injured his knee before his freshman year in the fall of 2018 at USM. He then made the decision to have knee surgery before the season and the Saint Mary coaches asked Beach to assist with some coaching duties in the pressbox on gamedays. That flourished into more rolls as a student coach. One of his professors, Jim Zimmerman, told Beach about an opening on the LHS coaching staff and Beach jumped at the chance.
Beach praised coaches past and present in helping him become a coach himself, including LHS coach Dylan Brown and Troyer.
“Big T (Coach Al Troyer) taught me a lot about life,” Beach said. “He’s a good dude.”
Beach said he has incorporated some of Troyer’s coaching styles, while also giving a nod to his father, John, who coached Mason during his youth football days.
“It’s a little bit of a melting pot,” Beach said, explaining his coaching philosophy based on those lessons learned from various coaches along the way.
Lansing enters the contest with a 5-3 record. The Lions advanced to tonight’s game after defeating Coffeyville, 48-6, last Friday in a Week 9 playoff contest.
The teams have had a couple common foes this season, as Lansing defeated Piper, 12-7, in Week 2 and lost to Basehor-Linwood, 33-26, in Week 7.
THS (8-1) defeated Basehor-Linwood, 62-28, in Week 1 and then Piper, 29-0 in Week 5.
Lansing and Tonganoxie, who were longtime Kaw Valley League foes before the KVL disbanded before the 2018-19 school year, last played in 2017. Interestingly enough, it was Beach’s senior season. THS won that game, 37-3. Tonganoxie went 2-2 against Lansing during Beach’s four years at THS. The Chieftains won against the Lions his junior and senior years.
Lansing also has competed in 5A the last several years, but moved to 4A before this season.
Beach also noted that during the wild pandemic year, the Lions might have been on the other side of the East Bracket, but because of quarantines an cancellations, the Lions missed out on a Week 5 game against Leavenworth and possibly could have moved up in the seeding.
Instead, the stars have aligned for a homecoming of sorts.
There have been a lot of obstacles, but I fee like I’ve grown a lot,” Beach said. “Who else starts there career like this (during a pandemic)? It’s kind of a wonky year, but we’re doing well with ti so far.”