August 28, 2016
Tonganoxie High football coach Al Troyer chats with his team after the first practice of the season Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, at Beatty Field. THS opens the season Sept. 2 against Spring Hill at home.
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It’s time. Tonganoxie High opens the football season on the road against Spring Hill with a veteran team. The Chieftains have some 20 seniors on the squad as they look to contend for a conference title in the final season of the Kaw Valley League.
A 35-year-old Kansas high school league could be seeing its final years. Tonganoxie High School athletics director Brian Engelken spoke at Monday’s School Board meeting about the future of the Kaw Valley League, a conference THS has been in since the KVL’s modern formation in 1982. Current member Bishop Ward will head to the Crossroads League starting with the 2018-19 school year, reducing the league to six teams — Basehor-Linwood, Bonner Springs, Lansing, Piper, Turner and Tonganoxie. Engelken said Lansing wants to create a new league that would contain all or some combination of THS, BLHS, Bonner Springs, Blue Valley Southwest, De Soto, Leavenworth, Ottawa, Piper, Spring Hill, Turner and Topeka schools Seaman, Shawnee Heights and Topeka West.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Tonganoxie Chieftains would have been the team to make the costly mistakes. But this year, they are a veteran football team that has learned from past miscues. That experience paid dividends on opening night, when the Chieftains were the much more polished team.
“Grow up,” “fought hard” and “ excited for the future” were all common phrases used by Tonganoxie head coach Al Troyer when discussing his youthful Tonganoxie High School Football team last season. The Chieftains struggled to a 3-6 record in a season full of lessons. Eight sophomores were regular starters, and more importantly, the Chieftains only lost seven seniors off last year’s team. “It’s always a progression when you’re rebuilding with a young squad,” Troyer said. “We started eight sophomores last season and they’ve matured. The outlook is good.”